The Wild Field

Dmitri Pokrovsky Ensemble

Released 28 May 1991

  1. Mosquito
  2. Oak Forest
  3. Slow Kaliuki (Extract)
  4. Pine Tree
  5. Slow Kaliuki (Extract)
  6. Porushka
  7. Lullaby
  8. Geese Fly
  9. Fast Kaliuki (Extract)
  10. Sadko
  11. Fast Kaliuki (Extract)
  12. Where Have You Been?
  13. Three Sisters
  14. On The Street

Liner notes

In the early seventies Dmitri Pokrovsky was a student of conducting at Moscow’s Gnessin Institute. Frustrated with the current musical scene, he felt the need to discover something fresh and different-‘an alternative musical language, something that would break through all the old patterns and rules.’

Ironically he found it in a tiny village in a remote part of Russia, and embedded within the oldest of traditions. In the strange sound made by a group of five old women singing. Dmitri heard songs passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years. ‘Their volume was improbable…The song was extraordinary, complicated and dense in form’ It was a sound unknown in towns and cities – this was the Russian folk song. He knew he was deprived of a great art form and separated from his heritage. So he began his musical oddysey.

To help carry out this exploration Dmitri founded an ensemble – his ‘living laboratory’. It was created by musicians coming together with psychologists, mathematicians and physicists in a spirit of scientific observation and experiment. But this was not to be cold clinical analysis, which would kill the very object of their study. In order to know the essence of living village ritual they got inside it. By creating a microcosm of the ritual of village life the ensemble embodied the relationship within it – between each villager, between villagers and nature, between villagers and rituals. Thus they could test their theories in practise, the results of which the experts, the villagers themselves, cold validate. In this way the ensemble travelled all over Russia learning about the life and art of peasant, amassing a wealth of knowledge they now share in live performance.

The music on this album represents a tiny fraction of their vast repertoire. It specifically belongs to a small region of Southern Russia bordered by two rivers, the Don on the cast and the Dneiper on the west, with Moscow close to the north border and the Ukraine to the south. The area decame known by the name ‘wild field’ because it has no natural barriers to protect the peasants from their enemies. Despite countless attacks many ethnic groups have managed to survive. The songs here come from the Boyar’s Children ( part of the feudal system working and protecting the land in exchange for their freedom), the Sayan Peasants (working on monasteries in exchange for protection), the Nekrasov Cossacks (the independent military) and the Old Believers (who resettled in Siberia after the split in the orthodox church in the seventeenth century).

Listen

Reviews

  • A powerful, primitive sound, full of vibrant and complex polyphony and elaborate ornamentation. Folk Roots (UK)
  • As deep as the Russian soul, as expansive as the vast spaces of Russia itself…’ The Washington Post (USA)

Further Listening

  • City Of Love

    Ashkhabad

    Released 10 May 1993

    Ashkhabad take their name from the capital city of their home state of Turkmenistan, formerly a part of the Soviet Union. With violin, keyboards, accordion, clarinet, saxophone and percussion, City of Love ranges from wildly romantic melodies to the vibrant folk music of their roots.
  • Table Songs of Georgia

    Tsinandali Choir

    Released 25 January 1993

    An album of spine-tingling a cappella harmony from one of Europe’s most ancient singing traditions. While table songs are still in their original context, they have also become part of a widely known and widely sung performance repertory common to scores of amateur and professional choirs in Georgia. The Tsinandali Ensemble is one such choir.

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