Sunday, 28 March 2010

Once Again, All Alone - Videoclip with Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Russian romances (romansy) have nothing to do with "romantic" in the sense of romantic movies. They are art songs, typically on the words of a poem by one of the many great Russian poets. They are often sad or nostalgic, and yet you must keep listening to them from the beginning of a CD to the end. Not excepting Hvorostovsky's newest release of Tchaikovsky's romances, which has a total of 81 minutes.

Mentioning this release, I can not forget to say that it's in my book his best release in this genre. The voice is darker, fuller, his approach mature and Mr. Ilja's playing perfect. Be looking forward to another release that the Delos are planning. I have heard it, as it has been released in Russia, and it's just as good!

Nevertheless, Mr.Hvorostovsky has always been singing this genre, and he's surpassed by none. His very second CD he released in the West, a year after the very successful Tchaikovsky and Verdi Arias (1990), was Russian Romances (1991). It is my second favourite CD of romances (after the newest one, of course). The picture on the cover comes from this videoclip:

I don't know how famous or obscure this video was at the time, but I suppose videoclips by opera singers were not as common then as they are now, let alone would they comprise of hints of eroticism (mild for today's standards). One thing is for certain: it's an excellent video. In its mood and artistic approach, it's entirely loyal to Tchaikovsky's song, and shows how literally timeless these songs are.

Sheet music with Russian text and singable English translation (surprisingly loyal) in .pdf can be found here, on a site dedicated to everything Russian, including Russian music, including art song. All of it is only in Russian, unfortunately.

If you feel like you need a literal translation and transliteration, I've made one for you:

Important notes:
я - ya - I
ы - is like "i" in "bit", but more to the back of your mouth.
е - full pronunciation is "ye", but the "y" part is often ommitted, what is left is some sort of a softening of the preceeding sound.
Notice the vowel reduction in unstressed syllables. Difficult to transcribe :-)
More on Russian pronunciation here.
Notice that the word order is not strict. Where it would not be clear, I've marked the subject in bold.

Literal, almost word-by-word translation
Singable translation from the sheet

1. Снова, как прежде, один,
Snóva, kak prézhde, adyín,
Again, as before, alone,
Ah! Once again all alone,

Снова объят я тоской...
Snóva abyát ya taskóy...
Again I'm embraced by wistfulness
Racked once again by my grief...

Смотрится тополь в окно,
Smótritsya tópol' vaknó,
Staring is a poplar through (in) my window,
See where the poplar stands still,

Весь озаренный луной.
Vyés' azaryénniy lunóy.
It is lit by the moon.
Still with its silvery leaf.

2. Смотрится тополь в окно...
Smótritsya tópol' vaknó...
Staring is a poplar through (in) my window,
Now through my window it stares,

Шепчут о чём-то листы...
Shépchut a chómta listi...
Whispering about something are its leaves...
Softly it murmurs to me...

В звездах горят небеса...
Vzvyózdakh goryát nyebesá...
With stars are on fire the heavens...
Stars stud the heavens with their fire,

Где теперь, милая, ты?
Gdyé tyéper', mílaya, ti?
Where now, my love, are you?
Say, my love, where can you be?

3. Всё, что творится со мной,
Vsyó, shto tvarítsya sa mnóy,
All that has happened to me
All that has happened to me

Я передать не берусь...
Ya peredát' nyeberús'...
I cannot begin to tell.
Cannot begin to be told.

Друг! помолись за меня,
Druk! pamalís' za menyá,
Friend, say a prayer for me,
Friend, say a prayer now for me,

Я за тебя уж молюсь.
Yá za tyebyá uzh malyús'.
I for you am already praying.
Pray, as I pray now for you.


  1. Great post frufruj!! And thanks for the transliterations/translations - very helpful in understanding the song :-))

  2. Be looking forward to another release that the Delos are planning. I have heard it, as it has been released in Russia, and it's just as good!


    Is that a selection of songs based on Pushkin texts that the New York Times mentioned in an article about two years ago?

  3. @frufru: Thanks:-) I've been waiting for this release ever since I read that article!