|VVCD - 00099
Georg Friedrich Handel
12 Concerti grossi, op.6
The Soloists Ensemble
Editor: M. Segelman
Restoration: Vista Vera, 2006.
The 3-piece CD series presenting Handel's 12 concerti
grossi is of double significance to me. Firstly, these recordings
made in the early 1970s reflect the then conception of performing
the music of the Baroque era and is a part of the history of musical
performance; secondly, they are connected with another history,
my personal history, and a very interesting episode of it.
The Soloists Ensemble that you will hear in these CDs had recorded
a vast variety of musical works at the All-Union Radio's and Melodia
Records studios. It was a rather unusual and bizarre phenomenon
of the Soviet musical reality. Officially, it just did not exist!
At that time, any performer - be it a full orchestra, a string quartet,
a trio, a soloist or anybody! - was supposed to belong to some official
Soviet organization, such as philharmonics, radio, Mosconcert, Rosconcert,
Gastrolburo, etc. The Soloists Ensemble, however, did not belong
to any of it, being, pure and simple, a private enterprise, something
that at that time was regarded as illegal and suspicious. Moreover,
the ensemble did not have a constant set of musicians, nor administrative
body over it.
It all began back in the late 1960s when I had finally come to realize
that it was futile to try to make my orchestra "outboundable",
i. e. to seek the officials' consent to allow us to go on performing
tours abroad, though Western impresarios bombarded us with their
offers. My persona was highly non-grata for Soviet authorities,
indeed. And I quit.
So, I found myself jobless, and when the Moscow Philharmonics Director
Mitrofan Kuzmich Belotserkovsky offered me a "roof above my
head" as a soloist of the Madrigal Ensemble, however strange
that might seem, I was very much grateful to him and promptly agreed.
In this new position, I was totally free to embark on any of my
"conductor's enterprises". Then, it dawned on me that
I could proceed with the studio recordings that I began at the All-Union
Radio studios with my orchestra in the 1960s. Back then, we received
much help from a wonderful woman, the Chief Musical Editor of the
International Radio Broadcasts Directorate Yekaterina Alexeyevna
Andreyeva, a high-cultured and sophisticated musician herself, of
remarkably broad scope and immaculate taste. She was responsible
for the many recordings of contemporary music that was semi-banned
at the time, and she somehow managed to circumvent the ban, on a
pretext that those recordings were basically made for international
Andreyeva suggested that I would have completed the program of recordings
contracted to my former orchestra, while picking good musicians
specially for this task. I followed her advice, which gave birth
to a magnificent orchestra under a rather neutral name "The
Soloists Ensemble", with whom in the subsequent 10 or 12 years
I recorded hundreds pieces of music at the Moscow Radio's and Melodia
Records' studios. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this
orchestra (its number varied depending on the particular score,
and sometimes it amounted to 55 musicians) consisted of the finest
performers - the cream of Moscow's musical elite. We worked in this
way: I would obtain a recording order (from Ye. Andreyeva or K.
Kirilenko), ordered a studio at the All-Union Radio's Recording
Center on Kachalova Street and then… I would get on the phone. I
had approximately 140 performers on my list - soloists, ensemblists,
all of them the best musicians from the capital city's best orchestras.
It was sufficient for me to make a phone-call and say: "On
the twenty second this month, first studio, rehearsals begin at
five in the afternoon, will you be available?" I still keep
wondering how come nobody ever let me down, and if somebody could
not show up, a replacement was duly provided. Ironically, the performers
would come to the studio without a prior knowledge of what exactly
they were supposed to play and record! Understandably, that was
only possible thanks to the highest professionalism of all my colleagues.
I would come to the studio with an accurately edited orchestration,
and we, without losing a minute, would rehearse for an hour and
a half. Then, the recording session would start. It is hard to believe
but, with rare exceptions, we managed to complete our work that
same night, as it was very much inconvenient for us to reschedule
the recording session.
I always worked together with my regular sound engineers - Rita
Kozhukhova, Erik Pazukhin and Alik Yunk at the All-Union Radio Studio,
and Igor Veprintsev and Yelena Buneyeva at Melodia Records. I could
write a long poem about each of them, as they all are the history
of the then recording business, and I am so much grateful to these
Now a few words about my friends, The Ensemble members. I can not
possibly name them all here, but, at least, some of them I will:
flutist Valentin Zverev, clarinetists Vladimir Sokolov and Lev Mikhailov,
bassoonist Valeri Popov, French hornist Alexander Kuznetsov, kettledrummer
Valentin Snegiryov, violinists Andrei Abramenkov and Boris Kunyev,
cellists Yuli Turovsky and Mikhail Milman, contrabassist Rifat Komachkov…
They all (I beg pardon of all those whom I omitted) made it possible
for that unique "invisible" ensemble to become an exceptional
phenomenon in our nation's musical history leaving behind the rich
heritage in the musical archives.
After I emigrated from the USSR in 1981, all our recordings were
banned and ordered to be destroyed; however, nameless heroes bravely
preserved them, and now, in this new era, they are being reissued
in Russia. So, to paraphrase the famous saying, musical recordings,
like manuscripts, "do not burn", too.
I would like to dedicate these CDs to those my friends of "The
Soloists Ensemble" who, regrettably, are no longer with us
Translated by Oleg Alyakrinsky