Thursday, September 29, 2011

Remembering Oleg Yankovsky

Oleg Yankovsky passed away in 2009, but his legacy lives on in film.  We were watching Khrani menya, moy talisman (Keep me, my talisman) the other night, in which a young Yankovsky is part of a love triangle with Tatyana Dubrich and Alexandr Abdulov, as they document the Pushkin Poetry Festival in Boldino,

Some marvelous cameos by Bulat Okudzhava and others in the film, which dates from 1986  Yankovsky was one of Russia's favorite actors.  His filmography is mostly known within the country, but he also played in Tarkovsky's Mirror (1974) and Nostalghia (1983).

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scenes from Paris

Judging by the price Ilya Repin's 1875 masterpiece fetched at a Christie's auction this past summer, Russian art is finally getting its due.  Repin is widely regarded as the master of Russian realism in the late 19th century.  He briefly broke with the Peredvizhinki artistic school to paint scenes of Paris, where he studied from 1873-76.  You can certainly see the influence of Manet in this painting.  Here's another example of his Paris Years

Much of the Russian realism carried with it a strong sense of nationalism.  Repin would return to Russia and nationalist subject matter in such works as Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mahmoud IV, a work that consumed 10 years of his life and was completed in 1891.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Night in Tallinn

It is hard to say when modern jazz began in the Soviet Union, but in 1967 Charles Lloyd toured the Soviet Union and recorded a concert in Tallinn.  The original album contained four cuts and was released on Atlantic.  It showcased Lloyd, along with Keith Jarrett, Ron McClure and Jack DeJohnette, at he peak of his popularity following the highly successful Forest Flower album.  The highlight of the concert was an extended version of "Sweet Georgia Bright."  Soviet "jazz bands" tended to be state produced with music by the Composers' Union, so this was quite a departure from the standard fare.

Slava Ganelin formed the Ganelin Trio with Vladimir Tarasov and Vladimir Chekasin in Vilnius in 1970, which is generally regarded as the first free jazz band in the Soviet Union.  They would achieve international success with the studio album Ancora da Capo and their live recording in East Germany.

What little cross pollination that occurred during this time was at events like the Tallinn Jazz Festival.