Tovarich, the time has come to pay tribute to the Motherland and revisit some of the most famous pieces Russian composers have produced around the 1917 Revolution…and beyond.
Peter and the Wolf
Serguei Prokofiev’s 1936 symphonic tale for children is one of the most famous Russian works. It is particularly known for having a specific instrument to play a small melody for each of the characters – Peter by the violins, the duck by the clarinet, the wolf by the French horn etc…
Here’s the version made by puppeteers Spitting Image with Sting as the narrator and some cameo appearances by the Marx Brothers (Groucho, not Karl)!
The 1812 Overture
Tchaikovsky’s tribute to the victory of the Russian forces against the Napoleon armies was written in 1880. After a slow start, the piece reaches a raucous finale but we’ll spare you the cannons at the end, for health and safety reasons!
Meanwhile, here’s the Halle Orchestra at the 2014 Proms:
Moscow nights, Kalinka, Nina Paparoschka and many more traditional folk songs are featured in this medley with dazzling accelerandos and changing moods.
Best to leave the Red Army Choir to give you a demonstration:
An Ukrainian melody who got made famous in 1910 by Italian pianist Adalgiso Ferraris, later covered by French Gypsy guitar sensation Django Reinhardt and even trumpeter Louis Armstrong!
We will attempt to sing the first verse in Russian and the rest in English. Are you ready for a challenge? Here’s how baritone superstar Dmitri Hvotostosky does it, it’s all in the haircut!
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
Okay, this one has absolutely nothing in common with Russian whatsoever. The soulful funky tune by Jazz saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley and his quintet will be our vehicle for some improvisation. This will be the time to play it by ear and feel the vibe.
Queen Latifah’s version is as funky as can be:
The choir will also deliver a medley of 5 pop songs, all related to Russia. Without giving the whole game away, here are two of them…
Billy Joel covering “Back in the USSR” from the Beatles