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The Tzar's Guitars
Souvenirs of Russia

John Schneidermann & Oleg Timofeyev

DSL-92112 Cover

We consider this album to be a Russian tribute to the Spanish composer Fernando Sor (1778-1839), or, even more specifically, to his famous guitar duet Souvenir de Russie (Op. 6^).   Much has been speculated about Sor's time in Russia (1823-5), but the disappointing truth is, we still have no knowledge of his guitar-related activities in that country.   We do know that on his Russian journey he followed his wife Fèlicitè Hullen, who was appointed a prima-ballerina in Moscow.   To have found evidence suggesting Sor's activity in Russia as a guitarist would have answered many questions.   However, we have no choice but to believe that he appeared in Russia mainly as a ballet composer and the husband of the famous dancer.   Regardless of Sor's apparent lack of connection to the guitar activities in Russia, his Souvenir de Russie is an artifact that is paradoxically connected to the Russian guitar.   First of all, the two themes Sor used for his compositions are genuine Russian folk tunes, often chosen by Russian guitarists as themes in their variation sets.   Second, even beyond the specific guitar repertoire, it was common in early-19th-century Russia to construct a large-scale composition based on two genuine folksongs.   One example is Mikhail Glinka's ingenious Kamarinskaia.   Such a principle has been used by the founder of the Russian guitar tradition Andrey Sychra (1773-1850), as well as his students Semion Aksionov and Mikhail Vysotsky.   Third, Sor's duet indirectly poses an intricate question of the juxtaposition of the Russian folk material (the themes themselves) and the stereotypically Western approach to form, harmonization, and melodic development that Sor frequently used elsewhere in his compositions.

We decided to make Sor's masterpiece the foundation of this album.   We surrounded it with real Russian guitar music that would create an unusual context for Sor's piece and would also illustrate how the Russian musical culture was organically connected to the repertoires in Western and Central Europe.
- Oleg Timofeyev, Kiev

  1. God Save the Czar - Pietro Pettoletti (ca,1795-ca.l870) - 4:25
  2. Potpourri of Russian Folk Songs I - Vladimir Morkov (1801-1864) - 4:08
  3. Souvenir de Russie - Fernando Sor (1778-1839) - 12:47
  4. The Red Sarafan - Aleksandr Varlamov (1801-1848) / Andrey Sychra (1773-1850) - 2:16
  5. How Did I Upset You? - Semion Aksionov (1784-1853) - 2:39
  6. Souvenir de Moscou - Ivan Klinger (?-1897) - 6:02
  7. Russian Song - Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857) - 1:16
  8. I Will Saddle My Stallion - Aleksandr Varlamov (1801-1848) - 1:33
  9. Jenny Lind Polka - Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857) - 2:13
10. Polka - Nikolai Alexandrov (1818-1884) - 2:02
11. Potpourri of Tyrolean Waltzes - Vladimir Morkov (1801-1864) - 7:59
12. Potpourri of Russian Folk Songs II - Vladimir Morkov (1801-1864) - 7:40
13. God Save the Czar - Vladimir Morkov (1801-1864) - 2:59

      Total Time - 58:03

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