Village Variations


This CD is of particular interest because it marks the first time the Moscow Art Trio worked with an orchestra. The album was recorded with the Norwegian Orchestra (artistic director– Terje Tønnesen). Mikhail Alperin referred to the compositions as music for an imaginary ballet in six pieces that fantasize on the rural topic. The sources of inspiration are multiple ranging from Sergey Paradjanov’s movies,weddings and Indian Raga.

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Village Variations: Music for an Imaginary Ballet in 6 scenes for Moscow Art trio, String Orchestra & Percussions. Music by Mikhail Alperin, all lyrics by Sergey Starostin.

About the Music

I never lived in a real village. I guess I never lived in the Middle Ages. I wonder where these fantasies of “Village Variations” come from? Probably this has to do with my previous lives. Or maybe I saw too many Sergey Paradjanov movies, played at too many Moldavian weddings, or heard too many Indian ragas? Who knows where inspiration comes from? I call this project: Music for an Imaginary Ballet. To leave space for everyone’s own fantasies. Definitely some people remember more from their previous lives than others. I remember:

  • An endless night at a medieval village wedding.
  • Guests are dancing. Their faces very serious and stiff.
  • But not for long. Soon the wine will go to their heads and change their moods dramatically…

Who knows where inspiration comes from?

About the project

Some years ago, Andrey Boreyko, an old friend of mine who is a conductor gave me the idea to write music for orchestra. I had doubts about this because I never wrote music for “anonymous” instruments. I always wrote for musicians I knew personally and played with. But somehow, his idea stayed with me and began to live its own life.

During the next years this developed into “Village Variations”, music for Moscow Art Trio, String Orchestra and Percussion. The commission of Det Norske Kammerorkester (The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra) in 2007 made this possible. To play with this orchestra was a big pleasure and a learning process for all musicians involved. The passion of the orchestra musicians was very inspiring. Their enthusiasm and positive energy made me believe in this project even more.

I would like to especially thank orchestra leader Terje Tønnesen for his great musicality. As well many thanks to my old friend and percussionist Rob Waring, for his dedication to this project. And I am thankful to Boris Malkovsky, who helped me with the orchestration and was co-producer of this CD. Also: thanks to Uli Balss for trusting me.And no to forget about the great ears of Jan Erik Kongshaug -soundproducer of this record.

Misha Alperin, January 2008

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The trio is one of the most exciting formations of new jazz. The boundaries between jazz, folk and classical music have become irrevelant. Or, as critic Mike Zwerin wrote in the International Herald Tribune: “Rarely have the frontiers between epochs, Eastern and Western folk music, and jazz and classical music been so gracefully negotiated as by the Moscow Art Trio. The personalities of the trio’s members are more important than the instruments they play.

Pianist Misha Alperin is the composer and guiding force of the trio. He has been living in Oslo since 1993 and is a central figure in the new improvised music of the far north. Horn player Arkady Shilkloper was a member of the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and has worked with the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra. His unique ability to combine different musical languages has made him famous all over. Folk singer Sergey Starostin has always had a great interest in folk tales and folk music, even while he studied classical music. Whenever he travelled around the former Soviet Union he would collect stories, songs and traditional instruments. In Moscow Art Trio he plays folk reeds and clarinet. He also writes most of the lyrics.

The trio first performed in Moscow on the 5th of June, 1990. Since then, Moscow Art Trio has been performing all over the world. They have produced many CD’s and cooperated with artists like Bulgarian Voices Angelite and Huun-Huur-Tu from Tuva.

Unlike other European groups who aim at a home-made, “poor theatre” type of music the Moscow Art Trio don’t have to try to sound Post-Modern – they just are, and in a way that makes what they play, and the context of performance which underpins it, look and sound both utterly contemporary and timeless. Tarkovsky, no; Paradjanov (the Armenian director of The Colour of Pomegranates), yes. Once word gets out, they will be the band to book for every festival going.”  The Indepedent, Phil Johnson

The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra is one of Norway´s cultural mainstays and one of the world´s most renowned chamber orchestras. The orchestra now celebrates its 30th anniversary and looks back on tremendous artistic growth with emphasis on both tradition and innovation. The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra has guested many of the world´s most distinguished concert halls, often with some of the world´s most acclaimed musicians, such as: Iona Brown, Mstislav Rostropovitsj, Maurice André, Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, James Galway, Radu Lupu, Joanna MacGregor, Angela Hewitt, Andrew Manze, Truls Mørk and Thomas Zehetmair. On average the orchestra release one or two albums per year, ranging from the classics to contemporary music or playfull renditions of well known pieces. Many of these recordings have been awarded prizes, both nationally and internationally.

Moscow Art Trio

Misha Alperin (piano, claviola,bells)

Arkady Shilkloper (horns)

Sergey Starostin (vocals and folk reeds)

The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra , artistic director Terje Tønnesen

Violin I: Terje Tønesen, Ashild Breie Nyhus, Tor Johan Bøen, Jøm Halbakken, Alyson Read

Violin II: Christina Dimbodius, Hans Morten Stensland, Silje Haugan, Camilla Kjøl

Viola: Juliet Jopling, øyvind Plassen, Havard Rognil

Cello: Kari Ravnan, Ole Erik Ree

Double Bass: Marius Flatby

Percussion:Rob Waring



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