Sunday, May 2, 2010

Singing Russian Song "Lonely Accordion"

Most students sang Russian songs to commemorate Victory Day, I chose to sing "Lonely Accordion" or "Одинокая Гармонь" in Russian. Before I sang I also took great courage to give a short speech in Russian why I chose this song.

The first time I heard this song was about two years ago, it was sung in a documentary called Russian bride. It was a painful account of a Russian bride who went to USA only to be rejected by her future husband after a few months. The song was first sung in her boisterous family in Moscow before she left for New York.

When she arrived in New York, her short-lived happiness soon morphed into nightmare when she was verbally abused and neglected. She ran away to a relative in the States for refuge. Once again, she sang this song with her female relative, but only to have lost all her hopes and thrown into an unknown destiny ahead.

The hollowness and loneliness in her voice haunt me to this day, and I actually cried when I heard her sang. However it was more than sympathy of her plight, I felt an intimate and intensity of feelings towards Russia in general, nothing specific. And I knew one day I must come to Russia, for whatever reasons. And thus I came.

The song composed by M. Isokovskiy (1947) beautifully depicts a lonely accordion player looking for his love all night but failed. It begins with a poetic description of the nature where the accordion players is situated. It was translated into Chinese by Mr Xue Fan from China many years ago, recently it was translated into English by American students. Do take note that the translators painstakingly align the translated version to that of the original. However nothing could beat the beautiful Russian lyrics.

It is certainly one of the reasons why I wanted to learn Russian language - to be able to sing and understand the spirited Russian songs. They are my joy, my happiness. In times of low point in my life, they stood by me, giving me great strength to move forward.

My favourite rendition in Russian is from Valentina Tolkunova who passed away recently in Russia.

This is it:

Another wonderful rendition is from world renowned Russian Baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovski.

For the benefit for non-Russian speakers, the translation for the song are as follows:

Chinese Lyrics 中文翻译





Chinese version sung by George Lam (林子祥)

English Lyrics:

Once again all is still until morning
Door won't creak, nor a fire alight
Yet alone in it's soulful intoning,
An accordion roams in the night

First it wanders afield, to the meadows,
Then once more to the village returns
Seems it searches in vain in the shadows
Still unable to find whom it yearns

Coolness carries from fields in transition
Petals flutter from orchards in bloom
Name that maiden you seek, young musician
And confess your accordion's gloom

It may be that your darling is near,
But knows not it is her that you call
To what purpose your longing we hear?
Why do girls from their bedtimes you stall?

English singing:

If you are ambitious enough, you can play the song by accordion.

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