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Russian Folk Instruments Orchestra of the State Russian Broadcasting Company (Orchestra)

The Russian Folk Instruments Orchestra of the State Russian Radio and Television is the pride of musical art in this country. It has toured many countries, acting as an envoy of Soviet art and popularising the rich musical tradition of the Russian people. The same people who over the centuries developed those typically Russian instruments and that inimitable orchestral style.

In a little over four decades, the Orchestra managed to rise from obscurity to the peak of fame. Over the years, the range and correlation of instruments gradually changed, and so did the musicians themselves, but the group’s best traditions were carefully preserved from one artistic director to the next.

The company’s first four director conductors—Piotr Alexeev, Victor Smirnov, Nikolai Rechmensky, and Vladimir Fedoseev—singlemindedly led it on to its present heights of artistry. Inheriting the company’s rich experience and wideranging repertoire, its present director and conductor, Nikolai Nekrasov, People’s Artist of the USSR, has been at its helm for nearly fifteen years.

Over this period, the orchestra has performed more than seven thousand pieces.

Thousands of concerts, radio and television performances, miles of recorded tape and hundreds of LP’s reflect the acclaim enjoyed by this country’s leading folk orchestra.

It has delighted hundreds of thousands of music lovers all over the Russia, as well as vast radio and television audiences. Moreover, its Russianness and virtuoso skill have captured the public imagination in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

“A Russian Miracle” is how one American newspaper covering a concert in the United States headlined its review. In every town and city visited by the Russian musicians, their spirited performances drew enthusiastic reviews: “Muscovites bring joy from Russia”, “Russian night creates sensation”, “Sparkling medley from Moscow”, “My hands ached from clapping”, “If we had more such tours, we wouldn’t need SALT.”

Probably the unique blend of genuineness and technical perfection. The warm singing sound they produce, the balance between components that go to make up the richness of the score, the distinctive sound of each solo instrument, the variety of timbre and the acoustic potential of the orchestra, and, finally, the feeling that you have come in contact with authentic folk art.

The orchestra’s repertoire includes folk tunes and Russian classical music, works by classical West European composers specially arranged for the orchestra, and modern works by Russian and foreign composers. Such versatility is not surprising, since technically and artistically, Russian folk instruments rank with those of the symphony orchestra. The Philadelphia Inquirer suggested that the name “Russian Folk Instruments Orchestra” was misleading. That though it is largely made up of balalaikas, dombras, accordions, and a lot of exotic percussion instruments, its skill and perfection could match any symphony orchestra. Indeed, the performers seem to have no trouble whatever switching from Russian folk songs and dances to Russian classics, from Glinka and Tchaikovsky to Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Sviridov, and then to Bach, Schubert, Ravel, Sibelius, Albeniz, de Falla, Britten, Coates, and many other unexpected choices. Modern Russian composers keep writing new pieces specially for this orchestra, while such international-class singers as Obraztsova, Arkhipova, Gedda, Nesterenko, Shtokolov, Noreika, Eisen and Piavko often appear as soloists. Other soloists have been celebrated pianists, violinists and performers on brass and woodwinds.

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