Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Oberlin Artist Recital Series Welcomes Genre-Mixing Russian Renaissance This Weekend

Posted By on Tue, Feb 25, 2020 at 2:47 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY RUSSIAN RENAISSANCE
  • Courtesy Russian Renaissance


More and more, today’s musicians are shrugging off divisions of genre. Another trend in programming? Folk instruments from places far and wide are being welcomed into the world of mainstream classical music. Give those unfamiliar instruments a listen and be rewarded.

A perfect example of all that is the 2017 M-Prize-winning ensemble Russian Renaissance, which visits Finney Chapel as part of the Oberlin Artist Recital Series on Friday, February 28 at 7:30 pm. The quartet of Ivan Kuznetsov (balalaika), Anastasia Zakharova (domra and domra alto), Alexander Tarasov (button accordion), and Ivan Vinogradov (balalaika contrabasso), aims to “marry tradition and modernity, creating a fusion of styles and eras.”

That’s echoed in Friday’s program, which ranges from the Baroque and Romantic eras to folk, jazz, and tango, including music by J.S. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Richard Galliano, Piazzolla, Egberto Gismonti, Zequinha de Abreu, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Béla Fleck, Django Reinhardt, and the members of Russian Renaissance themselves. A full program and ticket information are available online.



“It’s very important for us to mix different genres, because we consider music to be a universal language of communication, without borders and limits,” the ensemble wrote in an email. “To play in a particular genre requires some immersion in history and style, and a knowledge of the features of the work. We study this and try to convey the essence of the music.”

Venturing into different styles brings up the challenge — or the opportunity — of arranging music. “We compile our arrangements ourselves,” the group said. “Music for Russian folk instruments is rich, but for a quartet like ours, there is sadly not much original music of good quality. We painstakingly look for the best sound, and some of the pieces require a lot of effort.”

Alexander Tarasov is the main arranger for the group. “He brings in his ideas, and the process of rehearsal creates the final result, which we present to the audience. Sometimes this process takes many months.”

Like many great classical musicians, the members of Russian Renaissance began learning their instruments early in their lives. Kuznetsov took up the three-stringed, triangular-bodied balalaika at age five, the same age that Zakharova started on another lute-like instrument: the round-bodied domra. Tarasov began playing the accordion at age nine, while Vinogradov found his way to the massive balalaika contrabasso at fifteen after beginning on other instruments.

The group came together four years ago following a tour of Serbia by Kuznetsov and Zakharova. At the suggestion of Serbian filmmaker, actor, and musician Emir Kusturica, that duo expanded into the quartet for a performance in Moscow.

Chemistry is difficult to quantify from the outside, but a brief listening session suggests there’s a special energy, playfulness, and sense of communication among the Russian Renaissance players. “It seems that we are united by the desire to play music,” the group said simply. In terms of chemistry, they added, “It is either there or it is not.”

Their debut album, Russian Renaissance, was released just this month on Cleveland’s Azica Records.

“This album weaves a very tangled musical texture,” the ensemble said. “We think these pieces are a good example of our eclectic interests. It includes avant-garde music by Alfred Schnittke, a tango by Richard Galliano, the music of Ryuichi Sakamoto from the movie Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and our own piece, Vanya, where American rock is intertwined with Russian folk songs and improvisation. We also include classical works of Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Johann Sebastian Bach.”

Published on ClevelandClassical.com on Feb. 24, 2020.

Tags: , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation