Category: Russia


IZUMRUD – Great Band with Domra, Balalaika and Accordion…

The Group IZUMRUD from Ekaterinburg in Russia is one of the most progressive band playing Russian folk instruments like domra, balalaika or the accordion bayan today.

In 2012 the band played at the Picknick Jazz Festival in Tomsk. Several pieces played at this festival are available in a long youtube video that includes interviews (in Russian language) with the band members. The second part of this video shows the performance of the American singer Mary McBride who had been invited for several concerts in Russia in 2012.

The members of IZUMRUD  are:

  • Michail Sidorov – balalaika, artistic leader
  • Nadezhda Zhikhareva – domra
  • Svetlana Solovey – domra
  • Rinat Yakupov – accordion
  • Konstantin Prokoshin – counter-bass
  • Evgeni Khantchin – percussion
  • Edward Smolenskiy-sound engineer

группа ИЗУМРУД (IZUMRUD) г. Екатеринбург

izumRUd from Ekaterinburg – concert at the Picknick Jazz Festival in Tomsk.

The videos of the past years show the many faces of Izumrud. At the jazz festival they played a more powerful style, with heavy drums and an electric bass balalaika. The group has performed together with other rock- and jazz-bands. Together with the singer Veronika Bulycheva IZUMRUD has recorded the music for the documentary “Voyage de l’Oural à Paris”. For some performances actors or dancers have been integrated in the performance. But also the band members themselves are taking part in the dance performaces, especially for the encores.

In 2011 Izumrud played a concert in Spain. The complete concert has been filmed and is available at youtube (12 videos). I have included those videos into my playlist.

IZUMRUD in Spanien (2011)

The piece with the title “Western” reminds me of the famous song “House of the rising sun”.

A piece with a great dance performance:

Czardas byMonti

Another great performance – the Czardas by Monti played on the xylophone. At the end of the performance the percussionist plays the piece again with covered eyes and a covered xylophone. Read more “IZUMRUD – Great Band with Domra, Balalaika and Accordion from Ekaterinburg (Russia)”


Reinhold Glière – Great Sinfonic Music from Russia –…

Today I want to present the russion composer Reinhold Glière with some of his compositions played by Japanese mandolin orchestras.

Reinhold Glière was a Russian composer who was also the teacher of Sergej Prokofiew.

His sinfonic romantic music with influences from Russian folk music is obviously also very popular in Japan.

This is the Intermezzo that has been composed for double bass and piano. The Japanese Mandolin Ensemble 8strings plays this tune on the mandoloncello.

[8strings] Intermezzo / Gliere / FK

Intermezzo / Reinhold Gliere / arranged by FK
Mandolin Ensemble 8strings The 4th Concert (2010.11.14)

Another composition by Reinhold Glière is his ballet “The Bronze Horseman”. The Ensemble Amedeo Mandolin Orchestra played two pieces from this ballet with a big sinfonic mandolin orchestra:

バレエ音楽「青銅の騎士」より ワルツ / グリエール

Reinhold Gliere “Waltz” from “Bronze Horseman” by “Ensemble AMEDEO” Mandolin Orchestra The 26th Regular Concert Conductor : Toru Nakamura

Aus “The Bronze Horseman” – “Hymne an die große Stadt”

Ensemble AMEDEO Mandolin Orchestra
Bronze Horsemen

Playlist Reinhold Glière

Additional Information

Wikipedia about Reinhold Glière (German):

Wikipedia about Reinhold Glière (Englisch):

Sheetmusic by Reinhold Glière in the IMSLP library:,_Reinhold

Free sheet music of the Prelude Op. 43 No.1 for guitar and many more free arrangements for guitar:

Homepage Amedeo Mandolin Orchestra (Japanese):


The Red Sarafan – Dimitry Kalinin – Balalaika Virtuoso…

The Red Sarafan is a well known Russian song that I have found a long time ago in the mandolin method by Ernesto Köhler published in 1887 by the Zimmermann publishing company.

I have looked through this method recently and thought that I should watch some videos of this song. So I found this video with a great version played by the balalaika virtuoso Dimitry Kalinin and the Academic Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments of the Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company.

A. Varlamov. – The Red Sarafan

Dmitry Kalinin, balalaika. The Academic Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments of the Russian State TV and Radio Broadcasting Company.

From Dimitry Kalinins homepage:

Dmitry Kalinin, was born in Moscow in 1978. He began to play the balalaika at the age of 7 and now he is one of the most recognized professional balalaika performers in Russia.

Dimitry Kalinin has played the music for many films, he composes and is a conductor for several orchestras. You can find many videos of his activities in his youtube channel. In those videos you can hear typical Russian music, but also arrangements of western music like music by George Gershwin or performaces with a Japanes player of the Shamisen.

One interesting video shows Dimitry Kalinin with his Balalaika quartet playing Smoke on the Water:

Smoke on the water – Deep Purple

Dmitry Kalinin`s Balalaika quartet.

Homepage Dimitry Kalinin:

youtube channel Dimitry Kalinin:

Another interesting version of The Red Sarafan, played by the Meteor Quartet, with two domras, a bass balalaika and a bayan (accordeon):

Meteor – eine russische Legende 08

To end with here I have a very special version of  The Red Sarafan taken from an old 78 record – this version is played by three singing saws:

Der rote Sarafan – Russisches Volkslied

Telefunken – M 6021 (19823)
Der rote Sarafan (The red Sarafan)
Played on singing saw by Dr. Otto Frederich and his ensemble.

Composition by Nikolaj Grigorjewitsch Ziganof (1797-1831) and Alexander Warlamoff (1801-1848)

A Sarafan (Russian: сарафан, from Persian sеrāрā) is a traditional Russian long, shapeless jumper dress (pinafore) worn as Russian folk costume by women and girls.

It was the dress worn by peasant girls and women in the central and northern part of Russia until the 20th century. Russian women from the upper and middle classes stopped wearing traditional Russian costume, apart from the kokoshniks as part a court dress in the 18th century, during Peter the Great’s modernization of Russia (although the clothing style of Russian aristocrats differed greatly from those of commoners). It is now worn as folk costume for performing Russian folk songs and folk dancing.

I have just prepared a scan of the mandolin method by Ernesto Köhler and added it to my homepage as a free download from this page:


Bis-Quit – Pop, Folk, Jazz and more with Domra…

Erich Heinemann, a mandolin player from Bonn who writes about mandolin on his site has discovered the homepage of a very interesting Russian ensemble with domra, balalaika, balalaika bass, accordion, drums and last but not least a saxofone – the Bis-Quit ensemble from Saint Petersburg in Russia.

The group is composed of six professional players, each of them a great virtuoso on his instrument. This ensemble plays a broad selection of traditional Russian folk, classical jazz and even pop songs. I have found six youtube videos of the Bis-Quit ensemble that show the different kind of music played by this group. More videos can be found on the homepage of the Bis-Quit ensemble.
The following text has been taken from the Bis-Quit homepage:

The musical ensemble «BIS-QUIT» was formed in 2002 by students of the Saint-Petersburg musical college named after N.A.Rimsky-Korsakov.A group of young musicians decided to blend the sound of russian folk instruments with that of the saxophone. And now the group has proved that is nothing impossible for them in the realm of music.

Through years of work and perfomance the group’s repertoire has acquired works of different genres and styles:
Classical, jazz, country, tango, latin and of course russian folk music. All arangements are made by the group’s leader Andrew Antipov.

From 2002-2006 with support of ELBA GROUP company, «MELODY» recording studio and the «EURO-shows» company the ensemble has released four alboms of different genres:

Russian Folk Music, Popular World Music, Jazz and the Golden Collection of the «BIS-QUIT» ensemble. Throughout this time , the «BIS-QUIT» ensemble has managed to master practically all known musical genres.


  • Balalaika double bass(large balalaika) – Andrew Antipov
  • Small domra(russian mandalin) – Olga Evstafyeva
  • Balalaika – Rustam Gafarov
  • Accordeon – Alexandr Satzenko
  • Percussion – Vladimir Maslov
  • Saxophone – Alexey Strelko

Enjoy the music of the Bis-Quit Ensemble!

Sting & Dominic Miller Shape Of My Heart BIS-QUIT ORCHESTRA-Музыкальный Бис-Квит

Blue Bossa Kenny Dorham BIS-QUIT ORCHESTRA-Музыкальный Бис-Квит

Playlist Bis-Quit

Additional Information

Homepage Bis-Quit:

youtube Channel of Andrew Antipov:

Mandolinen-Museum Homepage Blog by Erich Heinemann: