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Yelena Frolova
"Dorozhen'ka" ("My Path")

2003

AZIYA plus Studio of Contemporary Arts presents a new series "Roots and Crowns" with a gusli album of Yelena Frolova "Dorozhen'ka" ("My Path").

Ye. Frolova have recorded more than 10 CD but this one opens a new side of her talent. For the first time she recorded Russian spiritual poems, folk and her own songs rendered a capella or to the accompaniment of Gusli psaltery. Her soft and clear voice, deep penetration in the sense of old verse, thorough search of sacred music intonation produced the unique sound. It seems that she really managed to express the singing soul of Russian folk.
Ye. Frolova wrote about her path to the real spiritual and folk Russian song:"I was born in 1969 in Riga, Latvia. In 1986 I graduated from a secondary school. Perhaps my outer education had finished at that stage, and the inner one started at the same time: by books, music, meetings with people, songs.
I compose songs since 12 years old - from that very time when I took a guitar for the first time. The songs are written both on my own lyrics and lyrics of my favorite poets of the XX century. The songs lead me as they led early minnesingers or pilgrims sometime: from town to town, from person to person, from country to country. And this way bestows everything that it can give along with music: light, happiness, sorrow, pain and flight.
Guitar was my only companion in those wanderings for a long time but once I chanced to get to a beautiful ancient Russian town named Suzdal. This town presented me not only with a feeling of old Russia, which responded in me with a wave of new sounds, but also with an old Russian musical instrument - gusli.
Gusli is one of the most ancient folk instruments similar to lira, European psaltery or zither. It produces unique sound and demands peculiar way of sound extraction.
Brought up in modern urban culture traditions, I had to take my own devious path to my ethnic roots - via the so-called "bardic song" genre.
Bardic song, which was the media where I grew and had been formed as a singing and composing woman, became a popular cultural and social phenomenon just recently - in the sixties of the XX century. It presented a plenty of great authors to the world culture, such as Bulat Okudzhava, Vladimir Vysotsky and other not so famous but nonetheless interesting ones. Nowadays bardic songs appear to be rather a genre with its own laws, cult-figures and problems than just student amateur songs as it was once. I was taught to speak in terms of music and poetry and it was a bardic song that gave me this opportunity.
A folk song opened my heart. This song taught me to listen and to hear - not only the song itself but also - life and all that fills it. Voice and ear merged and so new ways opened for my voice. New songs emerged in my creative work - not just folk-style songs but a kind of sequel to the folk songs one have just heard. They sail along the waterways discovered with the help of old-time Russian songs.
That is why my own compositions are present in my album along with early sacred tunes, choral and ceremonial songs.
Luckily I was fated to meet remarkable performers of genuine folklore. Thanks to them I understood that Russian song is not somewhat offered to foreigners between courses in a restaurant accompanied by accordion and balalaika. Russian song is fairly open and plain at a glance. It seems that anyone can sing it. Authentic and very close to ancient tradition folk song is conserved only in small villages that are hidden from people and town vanity. However, this song comes to a few performers. It demands particular skills in sound extraction and special intonation in pronunciation bound up with dramatic nature of a song and peculiarities of a local dialect.
Today Russian folklore appears to be an object for scientific investigation in a sense or may be a destiny of some courageous and very talented performers such as the Sirin Ensemble of old Russian song, Sergey Starostin from Moscow, Eugenia Smolyaninova form St-Petersburg, Elena Sapogova from Ekaterinburg, gusli player Andrew Baykalets and hundreds of unknown ethnic folk groups and singers leading a quiet provincial life in the depths of Russia."

Foto: M. Kabakova

 

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