NF/PMA 9928

Lyudmila Shkirtil, mezzo–soprano
Yury Serov, piano
Natalia Sechkariova, flute (13–19)
Adil Feodorov, clarinet (13–19)

Recorded at the St. Catherine Lutheran Church, St. Petersburg, June 11, 2004 (13–19), January 25, 2005 (1–12). Sound recording and supervision: Alexey Barashkin. Text: Northern Flowers English text: Sergey Suslov. Cover design: Anastassiya Evmenova & Oleg Fakhrutdinov


Georgy Vasilievich Sviridov (1915 – 1998)
A Russia Flying Away (1977), a vocal poem to words by Sergey Yessenin





2. I Have Left My Beloved Home…



Guard Above Clouds, Open To Me…



Silvery Glittering Road



A Russia Flying Away



Simon, o Peter… Where Are You? Come Near…



7. Where Are You, Ancestral Home…



8. There, Behind The Milky Hills



The Deathly Horn Is Blowing, Is Blowing!



Hark, An Owl Is Hooting Autumn like



Oh, I Believe That Happiness Exists!



Homeland, It’s A Happy And Imminent Hour!


Boris Alexandrovich Tchaikovsky (1925–1996)
The Last Spring, a vocal cycle to words by Zabolotsky


A Joyful Mood



Spring’s Movements



The Sun Is Up



Green Beam









Who Responded To Me


Total Time:


We present for your attention two impressive vocal cycles of the second half of the 20th century written at approximately the same time by two great Russian composers, Georgy Sviridov and Boris Tchaikovsky. For all their striking individuality, these authors have very much in common. It is first of all their close ties to the national art, reliance on classical traditions, and creative attitudes that are extremely organic and integral. Both Sviridov and Tchaikovsky combine Innovations and originality with refined, perfected simplicity as a result of careful selection of their tools of expression. They both composed as if ignoring fashionable trends in music; they listened to their own tuning fork. And both addressed in their work the deepest and most difficult experiences that Russia had to face in the twentieth century.
Georgy Sviridov and A Russia Flying Away
Georgy Vasilievich Sviridov was born in Kursk Oblast in 1915. His initial education in music was at the musical school of Kursk, after which he studied at the First Musical Vocational College in Leningrad in 1932–1936.
His debut was a cycle of songs to words by Pushkin in 1935. Already these early works quite clearly demonstrate catchy melodies, fresh melodies, and simple texture typical for Sviridov.
In 1936 he entered Leningrad Conservatory to study with Dmitry Shostakovich. Sviridov’s compositions of the Forties reveal a strong influence of the teacher from whom he learned much, both as a composer and as a person.
The composer lived in Moscow from 1956 till his last day.
The Soviet regime was benevolent to Sviridov. He was honored with numerous top awards and titles such as the Lenin Prize and the titles of National Artist of the USSR and Hero of Socialist Labor. For several years, he headed the Composers’ Union of the Russian Federation.
The composer’s heritage of Sviridov includes music to musical comedies, films, and theatrical productions, such monumental symphonic vocal frescoes as Poem In Memoriam of Sergey Yessenin, Passionate Oratorio, and Songs of Kursk, cantatas for chorus and orchestra, symphonic suites, compositions for chorus a cappella, instrumental ensembles, pieces for piano, and several hundreds of songs.
Sviridov’s place in the history of Russian music is primarily that of an author of vocal compositions. The artistic credo of composer was careful attention to poetic word, the inner symbolic sense of which is to be disclosed in music. The theme of Russia in the broadest sense, and the image of homeland at the landmarks of history run through Sviridov’s works as his innermost idea.
A Russia Flying Away, a vocal poem to words by Sergey Yessenin, was written in 1977. One had to have a real courage and inner freedom to give such a title to a composition in the "Developed Socialism" era.
Yessenin has no poem of this name. Sviridov’s title is a quotation from the poem The Dove of Jordan, "A swan is flying ahead/Eyes full of grove–great grief/Is it not you weeping in the sky,/A Russia that’s flying away?“ The composer mostly selects verses of the young poet written in the years of a monstrous crisis (1917) and collapse of all the ideals and values of patriarchal Russia. Sviridov who had a rare sense of poetry shows us a totally strange Yessenin — nothing commonplace, and almost nothing of the Yessenin we had got accustomed to. It may even be said that the composer discovered this great Russian poet for us as something quite new. He created an amazing declaration of love for Homeland full of lament for the irrevocable, and delight in the beauty of the land — full of warmth, poetry, mysticism, faith, and chiming bells.
The composition based on fragmentary pieces of poetry is ultimately integrated in its form. The binding element is in the inner emotional contrast supported by a common motif line. Several symbolic images cemented with a generalizing idea alternate around one central symbol. Nearly all the tracks in the cycle follow one another without a break. Such architecture is very typical for the stylistics of “late” Sviridov, and relates A Russia Flying Away to painting, to the composition of a Russian icon.
This is how the author himself comments his musical poem in his diaries: “Autumn” and “I Have Left My Beloved Home”, landscape and lyric; “O Guard Above Clouds, Open To Me” is a fabulous legendary steed, a symbol of poetical creativity; “Silvery Glittering Road…” symbolize the timeless path of an artist, the path of man; “A Russia Flying Away” is Russia depicted as a flying bird, a swan on the wing, Russia in its cosmic flight; “O Simon, o Peter… Where Are You? Come Near…” is a fragment of an ancient legend; “Where Are You, Ancestral Home…” is a picture of revolutionary upheavals, and ruin of home; “There, Behind The Milky Hills” is the space where ancestors’ souls fly in the whirlwind of cosmic fire; “The Deathly Horn Is Blowing, Is Blowing!” is the advent of the iron guest, a tragic monologue, a feeling of collapse of the archetypal peasant way of life; “Hark, An Owl Is Hooting Autumnlike” is the poet again, eternity of poetry, eternity of the poet’s advent; “Oh, I Believe That Happiness Exists!” and „O Homeland, It’s A Happy And Imminent Hour!” are limitless belief in Motherland, in its best spiritual powers, a solemn anthem, and belief in recovery of Homeland.”
Along with colossal late vocal cycles of Shostakovich, A Russia Flying Away by Georgy Sviridov may be named among the most inspired pages of the 20th century Russian music. The composition challenging its performer with unbelievable difficulties in technique and musicianship is rightly considered to be a cornerstone of the last century’s vocal repertoire.
Boris Tchaikovsky and The Last Spring
Boris Alexandrovich Tchaikovsky (1925 – 1996) was born in Moscow into a white–collar family: his father was an expert in statistics and economic geography, and his mother was a medic. The parents were talented individuals who knew literature and art well, and passionately loved music. The ethical principles inherited from the parents became the composer’s lifelong inner core.
Boris Tchaikovsky finished school, and the Gnessin College, and entered Moscow Conservatory in 1941, but his studies were interrupted by the war, and were not resumed until 1944. His Conservatory teachers were the eminent Vissarion Shebalin, Nikolai Myaskovsky, and Dmitry Shostakovich (Composition), and Lev Oborin (Piano).
Upon graduation from the Conservatory in 1949, Boris Tchaikovsky found a job of a radio editor. In 1952 he decided to leave the job to devoted himself to composition of music. In 1969, Boris Tchaikovsky was awarded the USSR State Prize for his fundamental Second Symphony; in 1985, he was made National Artist of the USSR. In the last years of his life, 1989 till 1996, Boris Alexandrovich taught at the Russian Gnessin Academy of Music as Professor of Composition.
The creative heritage of Boris Tchaikovsky is vast. The composer wrote four symphonies, a Symphoniette, a Chamber Symphony, concertos for clarinet, cello, violin, and piano with orchestra, six string quartets, numerous chamber pieces, vocal cycles, and soundtracks to more than 30 films.
In 1958, not long before his death, Nikolai Zabolotsky wrote the poem Don’t Let Your Soul Be Lazy, which later became famous, a kind of manifesto for a whole generation of “the 60s people” and an indispensable essay theme in any secondary school program in the Soviet Union. It would be hard to find an artist who has more keenly responded to these amazing lines in their works than Boris Tchaikovsky. Incessant labor of his ample heart, desire to perceive, to study the complicated and contradictory human nature, mysterious and inexhaustible depths of human soul; honesty and sincerity in life and creative work, and great mastery have made the name of Boris Tchaikovsky a synonym of high ideals in the art of music. And it is satisfying to see that interest in his music is growing worldwide year after year.
The Last Spring, a vocal cycle to words by Zabolotsky, was written in 1980. The composition was preceded by a long pause in the activity of Boris Tchaikovsky. Four years separate it from his previous works, a period when he wrote nothing but soundtracks to a few films. The Sevastopol Symphony and The Last Spring that appeared in 1980 marked a new phase in the composer’s work, a crystallization of his style and manner. Like a drop of clear water, The Last Spring reflected Boris Tchaikovsky’s most essential composing achievements and attainments.
Nikolai Zabolotsky (1903–1958) is a separate "solar system" of the 20th century Russian poetry. The bright imagery of his poems, their enchanting beauty and depth, and light, weightless style have raised him to the galaxy of Russia’s best poets. The poetry of Zabolotsky may be divided into two strictly delineated periods: the early period of denial of the classical "Pushkinian" tradition of Russian literature — and the later, mature one, when Zabolotsky, in a way, "revived" or brought back the spirit and style of classical Russian poetry. Zabolotsky surely was the poetic voice of the epoch. "Innovatorship" proved to be too "superficial" for the disasters and emotional stresses that his generation had to go though. In the proper sense of the word, he achieved the poetical harmony and simplicity of his last creative years through suffering — in his creativity, and even in his life (many years in Stalin camps and frustration in his private life of the last years.)
Boris Tchaikovsky selected mostly the latest Zabolotsky’s poems for his cycle, and builds a moving philosophical concept of the most essential: of life and death, love and beauty, nature and eternal flow of existence. The spiritual affinity and kindred individuality of Tchaikovsky and Zabolotsky are surprising indeed. Soulful simplicity, aspiration for beauty as the supreme harmony, love for nature and its primitive primeval mysteries, perception of man as a part of "inert" matter of the Universe, and manner of utterance, which is clad in strict classical forms, noble, and restrained, link the two authors.
Being a great master of the chamber instrumental genre, the composer builds the vocal cycle according to the "suite" principle, alternating episodes (parts) of different nature. Tchaikovsky "embellishes" the score of The Last Spring with voices of flute and clarinet. It is just embellishing, not an attempt for an ampler scope of the sound, nor an inclination to a symphonic turn. The instruments just add some colors and bring in some charm of diversity, but they never take over the leading function.
The first parts of the cycle: A Joyful Mood, Spring’s Movements, The Sun Is Up, and Green Beam, create a bright, elated atmosphere, they "breathe" optimism and belief in man and his ability to improve. The springtime awakening of nature, tiresome waiting for the warmth of the sun, musical pictures of the fairytale forest and the "white–domed town" are depicted tersely, vividly, and very poetically. The music texture is transparent, and the language of the harmonies is remarkable for its fresh and rich fantasy.
The fifth and the sixth part are about the advent of autumn followed by "sobering" sorrow. Autumn, the cycle’s earliest poem written in 1932, in the time of Zabolotsky’s strong enthusiasm for "natural philosophy", is interpreted by the composer with a very personal accent as the life’s sunset, as a stupor, as a stop on a long way. Autumn is without doubt the culmination of the whole cycle in its scale as well as in the size of musical information conveyed. Autumn is the only part of The Last Spring developing to the dramatic continuity rule. Tchaikovsky makes Zabolotsky’s somewhat cold poem warmer, viewing it in the light of thoughts of man’s loneliness and alienation from the live world of nature.
The last part, Who Responded To Me (a direct lyrical address rare for Zabolotsky) is a soft, poetical parting with spring, youth, and love full of warmth and beauty. The bright nature of the last bars in the instrumental trio postlude offers no consolation: happiness is too fragile and unachievable.
„Ñåâåðíûå öâåòû“
Natalia Sechkariova, flute
Ms. Sechkariova graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatory and finished her postgraduate studies with Professor G. Nikitin in 1990. Two years before, she became a winner of a prestigious international competition in Barcelona. Since 1989 she has been soloist of the Academic Symphony Orchestra of St. Petersburg Philharmonic, with which she has performed at the best venues of over thirty countries.
Natalia Sechkariova actively performs both solo and in ensembles. She has appeared at such festivals as Musical Spring in St. Petersburg, From Avant–Garde to Our Days, and Ways of Sound, and performed concertos for flute and orchestra with St. Petersburg’s best ensembles.
Ms. Sechkariova regularly records CDs, and teaches at St. Petersburg Conservatory.
Adil Fyodorov, clarinet
In 1971, immediately after graduation cum laude from the Rimsky–Korsakov Conservatory, Adil Fyodorov became soloist of the Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, and soon rose to the clarinet group leader. Mr. Fyodorov has performed with the Orchestra, in various chamber ensembles, and as soloist in the best concert halls of Russia, and has toured in over 30 countries.
Adil Fyodorov is recognized in St. Petersburg as a chamber ensemble virtuoso. He has performed with N. Gutman, A. Lyubimov, Z. Vinnikov, B. Pergamenschikov, and A. Ugorsky, has recorded many CDs. Currently, he is a professor at the Rimsky–Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg.
A Russia Flying Away to words by Sergey Yessenin
Quiet is the juniper grove along the steep.
Autumn, that red–haired mare, combs its mane.

And the blue clang of its horseshoes can be heard
Over the blanket of the riverside.

The wind, in monk–like careful steps,
Tramples leafage on road ledges,

And it kisses, on a rowan tree,
The red wounds of unseen Christ.

O guard above clouds, open to me
The azure door of day.
Last midnight, a white angel
Drove away my horse.

God needs not what is not his.
My horse is my might and support.
I can hear him neighing dolefully,
Biting his gold chain.

I can see him writhing and rushing,
Plucking at his tight lasso,
And dun–colored hairs fly off him,
To the fog, as if from the moon.

O my land of gold!
Fair temple of autumn!
A flight of noisy geese

Is rushing to the clouds.

It is an innumerable host
Of transfigured souls
Driven up from sleepy lakes,
Flying to the garden of heaven.

Flying, flying, flying to the heavenly garden.

A swan is flying ahead,
Eyes full of grove–great grief.
Is it not you weeping in the sky,
A Russia that's flying away?

Fly on, fly on, don't struggle,
All things have their time and shore.
Winds flow down into the song,
And the song will sink into oblivion.

Fly on, fly on, fly on, Golden Russia!

Where are you, ancestral home,
That warmed its back at the hillside?
O my little blue flower
In never–trampled sand —
Where are you?

A rooster’s crowing across the river.
A shepherd guarded flocks there,
And three distant stars
Were shining out of water.

Time, a mill with a wing,
Drops the moon like a pendulum,
Into the rye behind the village
To pour the unseen rain of hours.

That rain, with its host of arrows,
Has whirled my home in clouds,
And struck down the sky–blue flower,
And trampled on the golden sand.
Where are you, ancestral home?

The deathly horn is blowing, is blowing!
What shall we, what shall we do now
On the dirty thighs of muddy roads?

Soon, a frost will whitewash with its lime
his village, and these meadows.
Nowhere can you hide from destruction,
Nowhere can you hide from your foe.
Here he is! Here he is with a belly of iron
Reaching our plains’ throats with his paw…

The deathly horn is blowing, is blowing!

Oh, I believe that happiness exists!
The sun has not died out yet.
The dawn is prophesying good news
By its scarlet prayer–book.

Chime, chime, Golden Russia,
And surge, you incessant wind!
Blessed is he who has marked
Your pastoral sadness with joy.

I love the murmur of wild waters,
And starshine upon the waves,
And blessed suffering,
And the blessing people.

I have left my beloved home,
Left behind my azure–blue Russia.
The birches’ three candles by the pond
Are burning as old mother’s sorrow.

That golden frog of a moon
Now lies sprawling over the quiet water.
White heirs are strewn in Father’s beard
Like blossom of apple trees.

I’ll be back, but not soon, not soon!
Blizzards will sing and ring for long.
An old maple tree on one leg
Watches over my sky–blue Russia.

And I know there is joy in it
For those kissing the rain of leaves,
Just because that old maple tree
Does resemble my head.


Silvery glittering road,
Whereto are you calling me?
A star is burning above me
As a Holy Thursday candle.

Are you kindling joy or sorrow?
Or are you steering towards madness?
Help me love your coarse snow
To the last — with my spring heart.

Give me the dawn for a wood–sledge,
And a willow–branch for a bridle.
Maybe then I'll drive myself
Up to the Lord's gate.

O Simon, o Peter…
Where are you? Come near.
White willows started,
“He’s there, ahead!”

O Simon, o Peter…
Where are you? I’m calling!
Someone is whispering,
“Call out into the blue!”

I called — and the dark
Pranced up aloud.
A red–haired fisher
Walked out with a bag.

“Friend… Why’re you here?”
“Following you.”
“Who are you?” “Judas!”
Mumbled the surf.

There, behind the Milky Hills,
Among the heavenly poplars,
Silver–jetted Aquarius
Is tilted down above us.

It’s the Ursa from the azure,
As a ladle from a tub.
And the storm leaping up to the sky
Has saddled the moon.

A whirling host of dead souls I dream of,
And a garden steaming milk.
Look, my granddad’s dragging the sun
To the sunset with a fish–trap.

Hark, an owl is hooting autumnlike
Over the road’s vast this early hour.
My head is shedding its leaves,
Yea, the bush of my gold hair’s fading.

It’s a “koo–goo” call of steppe and field.
Hello, mother blue aspen!
Soon the moon will bathe in snow
And be seated in your son’s sparse curls.

Soon I’ll be leafless and cold,
With my ears full of star–jingling.
Youngsters will sing without me,
Old folks listening without me.

A new poet will come from the field,
With a new whistle to sound the woods.
Autumnlike are the fits of the wind,
Autumnlike is the whisper of leaves.

O Homeland, it’s a happy
And imminent hour!
There’ nothing better or nicer
Than your cow–like eyes.

To you, and your fogs,
And sheep in your fields,
I’m carrying the sun in my hands,
Like a sheaf of oats.

Be hallowed in Pentecost,
Be hallowed in Christmas,
For vigil–thirsty humans
To get drunk with eternity.

And not a single stone
Thrown with a sling or bow
Will ever strike God’s hands that
Are raised high above us.

To you, and your fogs,
And sheep in your fields,
I’m carrying the sun in my hands,
Like a sheaf of oats.

The Last Spring to words by Zabolotsky (1980)
Let me a tiny lodge, starling,
Settle me in an old nestling–box.
I will pledge my soul to you
For your sky–blue snowdrops.

Start your serenade, starling!
Through kettledrums and tambourines of History
You’re our first spring singer
From a birch–tree conservatory.

Open the show, you whistler!
Throw back your little pink head,
Tearing up the shine of the strings
In the very throat by the birch grove.

I, too, would be willing to add my voice,
But a wandering butterfly whispered to me,
“He who strains his throat in spring,
Will have lost his voice by summer.”

And the spring is so good, so good!
All my soul is embraced in lilacs.
Now soul, raise up a nestling–box
Over your spring gardens.

Having lit the roof’s tiling
And warmed up the pine–tree’s wood,
The spring’s late sun
Is rising higher and higher.

In the pinkish and brown smoke
Of the branches still defoliated,
A nightingale is clapping his wings — and singing,
All pierced with oblique beams.

How natural is this repetition
Of his phrases so laconic and slow.
Seems like this tiny being
Is now singing expressly for us!

O deceits so beloved by my heart,
O delusions of my infant years!
Can’t get rid of you on such a day,
When the meadows are in full green.

Having lit the roof’s tiling
And warmed up the pine–tree’s wood,
The spring’s late sun
Is rising higher and higher.

The rain is pouring large peas,
The wind’s in fits, and the expanse is not clear.
And the disheveled poplar is cloaked
With the silvery inside of its leaves.

But look: through a hole in the cloud,
As if through a stone–slab arch,
A first beam is struggling to fly
Into this realm of fog and gloom.

So the expanse is not curtained forever
With clouds, and it was not in vain,
The nut–tree started to shine in late September
Blushing like a young maid.

Now then, painter, snatch out
Brush after brush, and paint
This girl for me on a canvass,
Let her be fire–gold and garnet–colored.

Paint me a young princess in a crown,
Unsteady as a sapling tree,
With a smile sliding uneasily
On her tear–strewn young face.

The rain is pouring large peas…

Who responded to me in the heart of the forest?
Was it an old oak whispering to a pine tree,
Or was it a rowan that creaked far off,
Or was it ocarina singing of a goldfinch,
Or was it the robin my little friend
Who suddenly answered to me at the sunset?

Who responded to me in the heart of the forest?
Was it you who recalled in spring
The years we had that are gone,
And our troubles, and our hardships,
Our wanderings in distant lands —
Was it you who had scorched my soul?

Who responded to me in the heart of the forest?
Morning or evening, in cold and in heat,
I always hear some indistinct echo,
As if some breath of boundless love,
Love that made my tremulous verse
Strive to you out the palms of my hands…

Dear friend, every day
I am lost at that hillside.
A laboratory of spring days
Can be seen around.

In every teeny–weeny plant,
As if in a live little retort,
Solar fluid is foaming
And boiling all by itself.

Having studied these tiny retorts,
Like a chemist or a doctor,
A rook walks along the road
In long violet feathers.

He carefully analyzes
His lesson by a notebook
And he gathers large nourishing worms
In store for his children.

And there, on hummocks under the aspens,
To celebrate the sunrise,
Hares have a round dance
With ancient lamentations.

Just like little children,
Clasping their little paws together,
Are monotonously talking
Of their hare wrongs.

And every moment these days,
Over the songs and dances,
The sun’s visage is blazing
Filling the earth with fairy–tales.

And probably it would bend over
Our ancient forest corner,
And it would smile unwittingly
At our forest miracles.

Gleaming in its golden mounting
Flush with the blue sea,
A white–domed town is dozing,
Reflected in the depth.

It emerged from aggregation
Of a white ridge of clouds
Where the sun blazes out of the water
For a moment now and then.

I will set off to see
Those distant lands,
I will find the road
To the palace of white domes.

I will open all the gates
Of those cloudy heights.
Someone will cast me a green beam
From the setting eye.

A beam that’s like an emerald,
A key to golden happiness.
I will get you anyway,
My feeble green beam.

But bulwarks turn pale,
Towers are falling far away,
The green beam’s fading,
Far above the ground.

Only he whose spirit is young,
And whose body’s eager and mighty,
Will break into the white–domed town
And snatch the green beam!

When the day is over, and Nature
Cannot choose the lighting at its will,
The ample spaces of autumn groves
Rise in the air as neat clean houses.
Hawks live there, and crows spend their nights,
And clouds roam high above like ghosts.

The substance of autumn leaves has shrunk
And covered the entire ground. Far off there
A huge creature on four legs
Is walking to the misty village bellowing.
Ox, Ox! Are you not king any more?
The maple leaf reminds us of amber.

The Spirit of Autumn, give me the power of pen!
The air’s build implies the presence of diamond.
The ox has disappeared round the corner.
And the sun’s mass,
A misty ball, is hanging over the earth
Blood–staining the earth’s edge in its twinkling.

A big bird is flying below,
Rolling its round eyes from under its eyelids.
A human is felt in its movements.
At least, it surely is hidden
In its embryo between the two broad wings.
A beetle has slightly opened his house between the leaves.

The Autumn’s Architecture. And the arrangement
Therein of the air space, the grove, the stream,
Arrangement of animals and humans,
When little rings and curls of leaves
Fly in the air — and a special light —
That’s what we should choose from other signs.

A beetle has slightly opened his house between the leaves
And is peeping out with his horns stuck out.
The beetle has dug out various rootlets for himself
And is stowing them into a heap;
Next, he sounds his teeny–weeny trumpet
And disappears again like a teeny–weeny god.

But then the wind comes. All that used to be clean,
And spacious, and shining, and dry,
All this becomes gray, and hazy, and unpleasant,
And undistinguishable. The wind drives smoke,
Rotates the air, throws leaves in heaps
And blows the surface of the earth up in powder.

And then all nature starts to freeze.
A maple leaf rings like copper
Hitting against a tiny twig.
And we must understand that it is just a sign,
Sent to us all by Nature for some reason
On entering another season.

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