Northern Lights - Stillness in the Solovki
|1. Shadows from the sky after a light snow 49.15|
|2. Vasya's ego at the hunting lodge 4.23 |
3. Stillness in the Solovki 20.21
4. Birch twigs and banyas 4.54
5. Ptarmigans at the Lairig Ghru 5.51
Shadows from the sky after a light snow
The Solovki Archipelago in the White Sea is a disturbing place
Nudging the Arctic Circle, Solovki's low-lying islands are shrouded in a rare serene stillness undermined by the decaying presence of evil. // In the Autumn, the taiga's forest is quietly wild with flaring bursts of bright red and russet leaves. // To the first time visitor, the white-walled monastery buildings signal centuries of Christian worship and a formal acknowledgement of the connection between spirit and nature. // But long before the Bolsheviks then Stalin moved in their political prisoners, these monastic cells held generations of immates sent to Solovki's escape-proof oblivion. // Imprisonment in this frozen paradises was as harsh as confinement can get, but Stalin's guards had particular refinements. // In one of the most peaceful parts of the main island is a church which was used to hold prisoners. It stands on top of a steep hill reached by a staircase of 298 steps. // In the winter - where minus 40 degrees is not uncommon - guards prepared the steps by scattering broken glass onto the snow and ice.
// Prisoners were then stripped, tied on to a log and rolled down the steps and left to die when they reached the bottom. // For the past 15 years, Vladimir Rezitsky has organised one of the most northern of jazz festivals at his home-city Arkhangelsk on the White Sea. // And after each festival, the performers are put on board a ship which sails to the Solovki. // When they get there, they take rowing boats across the island through a series of lakes connected ny canals. They also visit the big monastery now being renewed. // Vladimir says little, merely presenting Solovki to us to make of it what we will. // For me, and for Vladimir Miller, whose family comes from St. Petersburg and the North Kaukasus, the northerness of the place is appealing. // I'm reminded of the cold quiet athmosphere of the foothills of the Grampian mountains behind Dundee, Scotland, where I grew up.
// This shared feeling for the nature of the north is one of the factors which shapes the music this trio plays. // We don't talk about it very much, but it's there. And so is the idea of spirit in music, although our ideas on this subject are individual. // And there are other factors, too, most of them non-musical. // There's a notion of sharing strengths and a feeling of working for the group. // Vladimir Rezitsky's work is often appraised in the context of him being a bandleader. But here on this CD his alto playing in particular shows that he's breaking new ground.
He's stretching the sound of the instrument in subtle ways which don't shriek for attention. // And for me, Vladimir Miller brings a genuine Russian cultural approach to free improvisation. When I listened to him, I see Chagall and hear Stravinsky, and the great bells. //
The people who deserve a lot of thanks for bringing us together know who they are. They are the organisers who organised avant-garde concerts in the old days when the audiences where boosted by well-dressed men whith a limited knowledge of music. // And of course there are the Russian audiences. // I have played for Russians of all ages from Arkhangelsk to Vladivostok, and from Kyzyl near the Mongolian border, to Yakutsk in the north of Siberia. // Their empathy and enthusiasm are tremendously encouraging. // We raise three glasses of Belomorskaya vodka to them all.
Ken Hyder, February 1998
83 Baring Road, London SE12 OJS
tel. +44 181 857 5139
fax + 44 181 857 7551
|recorded at||Oor Wullie Studios, London, June 1996|
|executive producer:||Nick Dmitriev||
Listen to: Shadows from the sky after a light snow
|special thanks for financial support:||Igor Fleishman|
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