Two Russian Folk Songs
Moscow. Great Hall of the Conservatoire. State Academic Russian Choir of the USSR. Conductor A. Sveshnikov.
1960. Score “Muzgiz” Publishers, Moscow.
Choral score in the Sheet-Music Library of the State Academic Russian Choir.
Two Russian Folk Songs
Adaptation for a mixed choir
Shostakovich wrote the adaptations of Two Russian Folk Songs, Op. 104, for a mixed choir a cappella in 1957. The opus includes a lyrical wedding song called ‘The Winds were Blowing’, which was popular in the Kuibyshev (Samara) Region, and the roundelay ‘As I was a Young Girl’, recorded in the Novgorod Region.
The music transcripts of the songs were published in different years, after the publication of Shostakovich’s adaptations. ‘The Winds were Blowing’ was first printed in the collection Russian Folk Songs of the Volga Region (Moscow, 1959). The music transcript of the jocular dance song ‘As I was a Young Girl, How My Husband Cruelly Beat Me’ was printed for the first time in 1979 in the collection Traditional Folklore of the Novgorod Region.
Shostakovich’s Two Russian Folk Songs were published in a collection of choral adaptations titled Russian Folk Songs (Leningrad, 1957) as two independent items (“‘The Winds were Blowing’ as No. 9 and ‘As I was a Young Girl’ as No. 17). Nevertheless, the composer himself designated them as a single opus, as a cycle.
Op. 104 was first performed in the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on 24 November 1957 by the USSR State Academic Russian Choir under the baton of Aleksandr Sveshnikov. Later the State Choir performed one song from the cycle (‘As I was a Young Girl’) in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (6 December 1958) and in the Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic (10 March 1971). In the 1960s, the adaptations were also performed by the Republican Russian Choral Capella under the baton of Aleksandr Yurlov (30 December 1967, Tchaikovsky Concert Hall; 22 February 1968, Grand Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonic). Later, other outstanding choir masters, Viktor Popov (Boys’ Choir of the Moscow Choral Academy), Vladislav Chernushenko (Glinka Leningrad Academic State Cappella), Boris Tevlin (Moscow Youth and Student Choir, Chamber Choir of the Moscow Conservatory) and others included Two Russian Folk Songs in their programmes.
The only recording of Op. 104 issued during Shostakovich’s lifetime (the song ‘As I was a Young Girl’) was done in 1969 by the State Omsk Russian Folk Choir under the baton of Georgi Pantyukov. Later the cycle was recorded by Vladislav Chernushenko (1982), Michael Schnack (1987, Yale Russian Chorus), Boris Tevlin (1988 and 2006), Yevgeni Tytyanko (1995) and Nikolai Kornev (1999).
The adaptations of Two Russian Folk Songs were first published in 1957 in the collection Russian Folk Songs, as well as in the form of a score and parts (Muzfond, Moscow, 1957); the score was also printed in 1960 by Muzgiz. Then the adaptations were repeatedly published in various choral collections: From the Repertoire of the Lenin Kazan University Choir (Moscow, 1964, only No. 2), The Omsk Folk Choir Sings (Moscow, 1966, 1971, only No. 2), Choruses a cappella (Leningrad, 1972) and others. In 1985, Two Russian Folk Songs were included in Vol. 34 of Shostakovich’s Collected Works (Muzyka Publishers, Moscow). The foreign edition of Op. 104 was put out by Zen-On Music in 1997.