Ensemble Pesnokhorki
Vol. I1
(Face Music Switzerland, 1998)

The area of Siberia known as Altaiski Kray, located north of eastern Kazakhstan, was settled by Russians, Old Believers, Don Cossacks, Ukrainians and Belarussians (White Russians) during the period of the expanding Russian Empire. The city of Barnaul is in the centre of this area.

The music of this region reflects the old traditions of these peoples that moved into this region and displaced the aboriginal inhabitants. The Russification of this area began about 1600. The descendants of these colonists have preserved some musical traditions that are no longer heard in Eastern Europe.

Many groups that settled in the eastern parts of Russia (Siberia) did not assimilate as "Soviet citizens" but retained their local traditions and attachment to their original communities.

The folklorists known as Pesnokhorki recorded this album of lively and interesting Siberian music in 1998. They are a group of male and female vocalists and multi instrumentalists that perform traditional music in authentic costume. Instruments include the accordion, fiddle, wood zither, reed pipe, tubular wood block and ocarina.

The songs of this region reflect the daily lives of these settlers and the longing for the old homeland. "Alas that was at home, on the River Don". They are also dance songs, bridal songs, joke songs, and the like.

Vocals are often performed in a complex polyphony that is reminiscent of the music of other areas of the former Soviet Union such as the Caucasus with cross-influences (due to colonization and dispersal through the centuries). With this CD, Pesnokhorki gives us a beautiful and heartfelt tribute to the people of the Altaiski Kray.

- Rambles
written by David Cox
published 22 January 2005