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...
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 JOHN WOODSWORTH
.
performs Russian folk songs
with balalaika
(sound files in MP3 with writtentranslations provided)
.
(page created 15 August 2002; last modified 1 July 2010)
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.


... .
A love of Russian music... 

...is something JW has felt deep in his soul ever since his first exposure to Russian folk songs in the summer of 1963, when he would join fellow-students every evening for a songfest (led by Gene Adamczyk) on a shady green of the Indiana University campus in America, as part of an intensive Russian summer programme.  Not long afterward he was able to procure a Russian balalaika (see below) made in the Lunacharskogo factory in Leningrad (now St-Petersburg) ca 1960, and ever since he has been singing and playing Russian folk songs to his heart's content -- at informal parties, in music concerts, or teaching songs to students in the language classroom.
   The balalaika is a traditional Russian folk-instrument dating from the late 17th or early 18th century.  About the size of a mandolin, it has a triangular body shape and three strings, tuned E-E-A.  For illustrations & further information, please see the Wikipedia entry  as well as the "Strings & Keys" Balalaika History page   The reverse side of JW's balalaika, which is otherwise identical to the one pictured in the colour illustration there, features an image of the Bronze Horseman -- a huge statue of Peter the Great which still overlooks the Neva River in St-Petersburg.
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NEW: These songs are now offered in MP3 files

Many thanks to Paul Woodsworth for recording the first song  at the National Gallery of Canada in March 2002.

Many thanks to Ottawa singer/composer Igor Egorov for his assistance in recording the latter three songs.
Click here for a link to Mr Egorov's musical adaptation of two of JW's poems.

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... .

Kalinka

[Note: Second verse not included in the recording]

Click here to listen
(1.6 megs)
Recorded live at the National Gallery of Canada, 
as part of a presentation (in French) for
Les amis canadiens de l'Ermitage
iin March 2002 (added 16/3/2008)

CLICK TO SEE ORIGINAL RUSSIAN TEXT

.
Refrain:
Kalinka, Kalinka, Kalinka, my dear,
In the garden you sweet lil' malinka,* my dear!

Underneath the pine tree, underneath the green tree,
Put me to bed now, Kalinka, my dear!
Ay, liuli-liuli!  Ay-y-y liuli!
Put me to bed now, Kalinka, my dear!
(...& refrain)

Oh you little pine tree, oh you little green tree,
Don't make a rustling sound above my head!
Ay, liuli-liuli!  Ay-y-y liuli!
Don't make a rustling sound above my head!
(...& refrain)

Oh you beauty-laden, sweet soul of a maiden,
Come to me, love me, Kalinka, my dear!
Ay, liuli-liuli!  Ay-y-y liuli!
Come to me, love me, Kalinka, my dear!
(...& refrain)

English verse translation © John Woodsworth
Ottawa (Canada)
16 March 2008

*malinka -- raspberry (bush)
Note: the word Kalinka can also mean a snowball bush (or tree)


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.
.
... .

Moscow Nights
(Podmoskovnye vechera)

[Note: Third verse not included in the recording]

Click here to listen
(3.7 megs)

Click here to hear JW's translation sung on YouTube by Median Music

CLICK TO SEE ORIGINAL RUSSIAN TEXT

.
In the trees all round scarce is heard a sound,
Leaves have fallen still 'til the light...
If you only knew how much I think of you
On these warm, sultry Moscow nights!

See the streamlet move yet so faintly move,
Shimm'ring in the moon's silv'ry light...
Hear -- a song is heard, yet oh so faintly heard,
So sublime are these Moscow nights!

Why the look of fear?  What is wrong, my dear?
Why is your poor head bent so low?
Itís so hard to tell, yet so hard not to tell
All the things my heart feels and knows!

See the breaking dawn, we'll be moving along...
Promise me this one small delight:
That you won't forget the happy times we've met
On these warm, summer Moscow nights!

English verse translation © John Woodsworth
Ottawa (Canada)
5 November 2000


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.
... .
 
 

The Snowstorm
(Metelitsa)

Click here to listen
(3.1 megs)

CLICK TO SEE ORIGINAL RUSSIAN TEXT

 
Down the avenue the snow gusts sweep and whirl...
Right behind the snowstorm comes my dear beloved girl!
Won't you wait, just wait -- be still, my beauty true!
Please just wait a moment, let me look at you!

You're so beautiful, so pleasing to my eyes,
Let me gaze upon your delicate white face!
Won't you wait, just wait -- be still, my beauty true!
Please just wait a moment, let me look at you!

I've gone mad from seeing your lovely skin so smooth,
And your beauty has consumed my precious youth!
Won't you wait, just wait -- be still, my beauty true!
Please just wait a moment, let me look at you!

English verse translation © John Woodsworth
Ottawa (Canada)
15 August 2002


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.
... .
 
 

The Slender Rowan-tree
(Tonkaja rjabina)

This is the sad tale of two trees in love -- a sturdy oak (a noun of masculine gender pronounced 'doop' in Russian) and a slender rowan, or mountain-ash ('ribeena', a feminine noun) -- prevented from coming together by a river that divides them.
 

Click here to listen
(3.2 megs)

CLICK TO SEE ORIGINAL RUSSIAN TEXT

.
Why do you stand there swaying,
Rowan-tree so slender,
Bowing your head as if praying,
Down to the grass so tender?

Out beyond the roadway,
Far across the river,
Feeling just as lonely,
A tall oak stands in grandeur.

"If only I, a rowan,
Could get to that big oak tree,
I then would cease my moaning,
Bending and swaying so lonely.

"I would hold him tightly
With my branches slender,
In his leaves daily, nightly,
I'd whisper words so tender."

But the rowan can never
Get to that big oak tree...
Poor dear's condemned forever
To bend and sway so lonely!
 

English verse translation © John Woodsworth
Ottawa (Canada)
25 October 2000


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...
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"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

-- John 14:27
.

 

E-mail : <jw[at ]kanadacha.ca>
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