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WBS - November 2018 Concerts – Russian Winter

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The soprano soloist at this fall's concert, Irina Zagornova, will sing these four songs:

 1.  Na ulitse dozhdik/It's Raining Outside

 Lyrics: It's raining outside

It's pouring buckets

Pelting onto the ground.


A brother is rocking his sister:

"Lullaby little baby-girl."

And he encourages her:

"Grow up quickly,

And you will be smart.


You will grow tall,

They will give you away in marriage,

Oh, baby-girl.

To another village,

To an unfriendly family."


2.  Kak so vechera porosha/As the Snow Was Falling Since Evening


As the snow was falling since evening,

And a blizzard after midnight,

Oh, through this blizzard

Three sleighs were flying.


These sleighs flew to Katerina's farmstead.

Katerina runs out,

Her entire soul trembles.

Sweet Katerina,

She opens the gates.


Katerina's husband

He guessed everything.

He strode into the wide farmyard.

And found a black stallion.

"Katerina, what is this?"

"And what is it to you, sir?"

He went into the guest chamber,

And found a sash and a fur hat.

"Katerina, what is this?"

"And what is it to you, sir?"


"Tell me, Katya, Katerina,

Do not hide what is in your heart.

Who came to visit you while I was away?

There was a general from St. Petersburg, There was a captain from Tambov,

And a private, my sweetie, from Nizhniy Novgorod.


Tell me, Katya, Katerina,

Do not hide what is in your heart.

What did your guests eat while I was away?

The general ate chicken,

The captain ate veal,

And the private, my sweetie,

Just ate cabbage soup with me.


Tell me, Katya, Katerina,

Do not hide what is in your heart.

What did your guests drink while I was away?

The general drank liqueur,

The captain drank kirsch,

And the private, my sweetie,

Just had vodka with me.


Tell me, Katya, Katerina,

Do not hide what is in your heart.

Where did your guests stay while I was away?

The general stayed in the guest chamber, The captain stayed in the parlor,

And the private, my sweetie ...


As the snow was falling since evening,

And a blizzard after midnight.

Oh, through this blizzard

Three sleighs were flying.


3.  Okrasilsya mesyats bagryantsem/The Moon Turned Blood-Red


Lyrics: The moon turned blood-red,

Where the waves rage against the cliffs.

"Let's go for a sail, my beauty,

I've waited for you a long time."


"I'm ready to sail with my sweetheart,

I love the waves of the sea.

Give the sail its full will,

And I myself will sit at the helm."


"You're steering toward the open sea,

Where we can't handle the storm!

In this wild weather

We can't trust ourselves to the waves".


"We can't? Why's that, my dear?

But in a bitter, past fate,

Remember, you villainous betrayer,

How I entrusted myself to you?


You deceived me before,

Today I have led you on,

You sense death, despicable one,

You are pale like a coward, you're trembling."


All night the sea surged,

The sea waves seethed.

And in the morning on the waves were rocking only the splinters of that little boat.


4. Utushka lugovaya/The Little Meadow Duck

 This is a folk song with ancient origins.  The lyrics don't make much sense literally.  In the song, the singer compliments the little duck, and asks where she spent the night.  She answers that she was in the forest under a bush, and some dashing young men came by.  They cut down some branches and made whistles out of them.

 The little duck symbolizes a young girl, and the song symbolizes the tradition that young men had to go out and hunt for a bride, "catch" her and bring her home.


Our baritone soloist, Isaiah Trofimenko, will sing these four songs:


1. Akh, ty dushechka/Oh, You Darling


Lyrics: Oh, you darling, beautiful maiden,

Let's go out for a walk

Along the shore of the Mother Volga.

Hey, let people be envious of us,

We will be quite a pair.

This is not a husband with his wife and not a brother with his sister, this is a fine young fellow with a beautiful maiden.

Let's go to the green meadow,

We will pick flowers and make a wreath.

There I will tell you about my love,

That is tormenting my ardent heart.

That is burning inside, hotter than a flame. 


2. Korobeiniki, or Korobushka/The Peddlers


Lyrics: "Oh, my pack is so full, so full,

I have both chintz and brocade.

Take pity, my beauty

on this fine lad's shoulder!

Come out, come out into the tall rye,

There I will wait until the night,

And when I see the dark-eyed girl,

I will spread out all my wares.

Myself I have paid no small price,

So don't bargain, don't be stingy,

Bring your scarlet lips to me,

Sit closer to your dear one."

Now the misty night has come,

The daring lad awaits,

Hark, she comes! The desired one arrives, The merchant begins his sales pitch.

Cautiously Katya haggles,

She is afraid to pay too much,

The fellow kisses the girl,

And asks for a higher price.

Only the deep night knows,

What kind of deal they made.

Straighten up now, ye tall rye,

And keep their secret scrupulously!

"Oh, how light, how light is my pack,

The strap no longer cuts into my shoulders!

Though my beauty has taken

Nothing but a turquoise ring.

I had given her a whole piece of calico,

A scarlet ribbon for her braids.

A little belt; a white shirt

to put on while haymaking.

The sweet one put everything

back into the pack, but for the ring:

'I do not want to go around dressed up

Without my soul mate!'

Oh, you foolish young maidens!

Did you yourself not bring

The half-flask of sweet vodka?

But you did not take the gifts!

So wait right here!

An unbreakable promise I give:

Once I empty the pack,

I'll return for the autumn feast day

And you, my sweetheart,

To God's church I will bring!"


 3.  Stenka Razin/Iz-za ostrova na strezhen'

(Stenka Razin was a Cossack leader who led a major uprising against the nobility and tsarist bureaucracy in southern Russia in 1670-1671.  Russians consider this song to be about the leader sacrificing his own happiness for the sake of his people.)


Lyrics: From behind the wooded island

To the river wide and free,

Proudly sail the narrow-breasted

Ships of Cossack yeomanry.


On the first is Stenka Razin

With a princess at his side,

Drunken, holds a marriage revel

With his beautiful young bride.


And she has closed her eyes

Not alive, nor dead is she

Silent, listens as he cries,

The chieftain, drunkenly.


But behind them rose a whisper,

"He has left his sword to woo;

One short night, and Stenka Razin

Has become a woman too!"


Stenka Razin hears the jeering

Of his discontented band,

And the lovely Persian princess

He has circled with his hand.


His black brows have come together

And the waves of anger rise,

And the blood comes rushing swiftly

To his piercing, jet-black eyes.


"I will give you all you ask for,

Life and heart, and head and hand,"

Echo rolls the pealing thunder

Of his voice across the land.


"Volga, Volga, mother Volga,

Deep and wide beneath the sun,

You've seen never such a present

From the Cossack of the Don.


And that peace might rule as always

All my free-born men and brave,

Volga, Volga, mother Volga,

Volga, make this girl a grave!"


With a sudden, mighty movement,

Razin lifts the beauty high,

And he casts her where the waters

Of the Volga move and sigh.


"Dance, you fool, and men, make merry!

Why do you look so full of dole?

Let us thunder out a chanty

To the memory of her soul."


4.  Vdol' po ulitse metellitsa metyot/A Blizzard Is Sweeping Down the Street


Lyrics: Down the street a blizzard's sweeping,

Behind the storm my sweetheart goes.

Chorus: Wait a bit, my beauty,

My joy, let me feast my eyes on you!

On your pleasing lovely looks,

On your white face.



Your beauty has driven me insane,

It has withered me, a fine handsome lad.



In addition to the songs that our vocalists will sing at the WBS fall concert, there are songs embedded in some of the instrumental pieces we will be playing.


"Russian Winter" is a medley of the following two songs:


1.  Pod dugoi kolokol'chik poyot/Under the Yoke the Jingle Bells Sing


Lyrics: Under the yoke the jingle bells sing,

Under the yoke made from willow.

A dashing fellow is driving with a maiden, A dark-browed maiden.

The fellow flattered the modest girl,

And lured her away with him,

Onto the broad steppe in the dark night.


Sit closer to me, my turtle dove,

I will drive with all my strength,

I will whip on my raven-black steeds

For my dear sweetheart.

Hey, we will fly across the untouched steppe, honey, so that your cheeks get hot and sweetness fills your heart.


Here on the steppe only the wind sees us, Don't be shy, my desired one. Now a long-awaited opportunity has arisen for our love.

The fellow flattered the modest girl,

Seduced her with ardent caresses

On this dark night.


He clasped his turtle dove tighter,

Drove with all his strength,

Whipped on his raven-black steeds

For his dear sweetheart.

Hey, we will fly across the untouched steppe, honey. The girl's cheeks got hot, and sweetness filled her heart.


2.  Vot mchitsya troika udalaya/A Valiant Troika is Dashing

(The lyrics are a poem by Feodor Glinka, a relative of composer Mikhail Glinka; music by A.S. Verstovsky.)


Lyrics:  A valiant troika is dashing

Along the main highway,

And its little bell, a gift from Valday

Rings sadly under the yoke.


The dashing coachman, up since midnight, Became melancholy in the stillness, And he sang about bright eyes,

About his true love's eyes.


"You eyes, light blue eyes,

You have conquered this young fellow.

Why, oh why, evil people,

Have you separated our hearts?


Now I am but a poor orphan!"

And he suddenly signaled to all three horses, And the lad consoled himself with song

And poured it out like a nightingale.


The slow part of the Budashkin Concerto for Domra, Peter Omelchenko, soloist, is a song set to a very famous poem by Mikhail Lermontov:


Vykhozhu odin ya na dorogu/I Walk Alone Out Onto the Road


Lyrics:  I walk alone out onto the road;

The flinty pathway glitters through the mist; The night is still. The wilderness attends to God.  And the stars speak to each other.

The heavens are majestic and wonderful!

The earth sleeps in azure radiance.

Why then am I so pained and troubled?

Do I await something? Do I regret something?

No, I await nothing from life,

And I don't regret the past at all;

I seek freedom and rest!

I would like to forget and fall asleep!

But not that cold sleep of the grave...

I would like to sleep forever

While the life forces dream in my breast, While my chest quietly rises as I breathe, While all night, all day, soothing my ears,

A sweet voice sings to me of love,

And over me, eternally green,

A dark oak bends and rustles.

 Travushka-Muravushka is a traditional Russian folk song.  The title literally means "bright green grass," but the song isn't really about grass.  It's about a coquettish girl who sings that the grass is green, but she isn't going out and she would like the young man to kindly not sit next to her.



Andrei Saveliev will play "Volga-rechenka glubokaya (The River Volga is Deep)" and "Valenki," a song about traditional Russian winter footwear made from thick, felted wool.


The river Volga is so deep,

Its waves beat at the shore,

My beloved is gone, without bidding farewell, Does it mean our love is no more?


Oh, you pale blue mists,

Silvery waves of the river,

Can it be that my beloved

Will not return ever?


Wonderful was the blooming cherry,

But wind blew the white color away.

I would try to love another,

But my heart will not let me stray.


Against the steep riverbank

Day and night the waves heave.

It's better to love someone

Who treasures you and doesn't leave.


Fog rises over the river,

The morning sun I cannot see.

I will wait for my beloved

And he will remember me.

 Valenki, oh valenki, you're old and worn. I cannot wear these valenki.


And so I can't go out to see my sweetheart. Valenki, oh valenki, you're old and worn.

 Oh, Kolya, Kolya, Nikolai, sit at home and don't go out. Don't go out to that distant place, and don't give rings to the girls. Instead of bringing presents, you'd better patch up your valenki.

 May both God and the people be witnesses to my love, I went barefoot through the frost to my sweetheart. Valenki, oh valenki, you're old and worn. Valenki, valenki.


translations compiled by Jane Purcell



Join the Washington Balalaika Society Orchestra and perform the music of Russia, Ukraine and eastern Europe. Traditional fretted Russian instruments available. Learn from conservatory-trained teachers. Seeking players (or those wanting to learn) balalaika, domra (Russian mandolin), bayan/accordion, and some orchestral wind and percussion instruments to join us in the Fall. Call 703-549-0760 for more information.