View Full Version : Tamara Volskaya

Jun-21-2004, 6:54am
This past weekeend the Providence Mandolin Orchestra presented a three-day "International Plucked String Festival". Each evening the PMO performed, followed by a guest artist. On Saturday the guest artist was Tamara Volksaya, on domra and mandolin, accompanied by her husband, Anatoliy Trofimov, on bayan (Russian accordian. On Saturday afternoon Ms. Volksaya gave a masterclass for PMO members. With his duo partner Josh Bell on mandolin, your faithful correspondent performed two selections, the "Elegia" movement of the Brian Israel "Sonatinetta" for classical guitar (me) and mandolin, and a Gervasio duo for two mandolins. Other PMO members perfomed the Beethoven "Adagio" for mandolin (accompanied on piano), a Barbella duo for mandolin, and pieces by Bach and Takemtisu for mandolin quintet.
Ms. Volksaya emphasized technical issues, including the use of left hand pressure to sustain notes on the mandolin; the necessity, when playing PP, to play with sufficient clarity to be heard; left and right hand coordination on scales and other passages; and many other things. All in all, a very rewarding masterclass.
In the evening the "Russian Duo" as they call themselves, were extraordinary (and very Russian, in their musical conception). I've heard her on recordings before, but never in person.

Jun-21-2004, 6:55am
P.S. I forgot -- her mandolin, which she played at the masterclass (Munier) and in the evening (an 18th century piece by Denis) was a brand new Pandini. Very beautiful, and loud.

Jun-21-2004, 7:48am
Indeed, Robert. I have known Tamara personally for years now, and am very fond of her and Anatoliy. I, too, heard her live on her brand-new Pandini in May. What a cannon of a mandolin!

Despite the fact, however, that we live and work a borough away, I have never really spent any mandolin-time with her to speak of... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif So, while I consider her a great inspiration and mando-mentor, I must disclaim: She is in NO way responsible for my deficient playing! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Jun-21-2004, 10:59am
[QUOTE]"...technical issues, including the use of left hand pressure to sustain notes..."

Some 20 years ago, while on fellowship at Aspen, I did study with a Russian bass virtuoso. His "theme of the year" was, as he called it, stoppage: Listening intently to the quality of sound, as defined by adequate pressure, i.e. perfect stopping of the vibrating string, by the left hand. Needless to say, there is much, fuzzy-sounding (bowed) string playing that is not to be attributed to fuzzy bowing (the usual culprit) but instead to INadequate "stoppage".

I hold this truth to be not only self-evident but also immediately transferable to plucked instruments. Also, on Tamara's point regarding soft but c-l-e-a-r playing: Oh, if you only knew... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif Absent the almost gratuitous clarity of the up-down-up-down strokes of the bow, one has to work SO HARD with one's left hand in order to get clarity in pianissimo legato! *blood, sweat & tears— repeat ad libitum*

Life's tough. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jun-21-2004, 11:08am
And, at the risk of appearing overly effusive about my dear Tamara, take a look at this:

https://webmail.pas.earthlink.net/wam....8765120 (https://webmail.pas.earthlink.net/wam/MsgAttachment?msgid=261&attachno=1&folder=INBOX.Trash&x=938765120)

With some basic Cyrillic literacy, you can see the connection. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jim Garber
Jun-21-2004, 11:16am
That URL leads me to a log in page for Web mail. Is there some other link?


Jun-21-2004, 11:28am
Oops... sorry, Jim (et al). What I was trying to post is an jpeg attachment, as attached to an email from Tamara to me. Obviously, what I did was wrong. Ehm... how do I do it, i.e. the right way? *blush*

Jim Garber
Jun-21-2004, 11:43am
I think you have to download the jpeg to your hard drive an then attach it the regular way.

BTW I am very interested to hear Tamara play, esp on her Pandini.


Jun-22-2004, 8:18am
Weeeeeeel, Jim... I DID try to twist your arm as diligently as I could, so that you could have come down to St. Paul's Chapel when Tamara played on said Pandini. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Of course, I assume that work —a most loathsome, four-letter word— got the best of you that day, as it does of me, virtually each and every day.

Naturally, perspectives differ: While Tamara was picking up a storm on a czardas, my boss (and Director of the concert series), leaned over to me and said with a belly-laugh: "THAT's the loudest *(#&$!^$^! $!@#$ mandolin I've ever heard in my life!!!"

Au contraire, prior to the performance, Tamara showed me her new baby and, sighing with fondness, she confided: "Yes, nice, very nice; too bad it's not loud enough." #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif Her taste for sound, of course, is conditioned by the single, thicker strings of the domra, on which, admittedly, she makes a far bigger "joyous noise" than on ANY mandolin.

P.S. Tamara just dropped me an e-mail, thanking me for sending her a copy of the little Idillio that is now (thanks to you, Jim) available to one and all. I must say, however, that I am a bit worried by her parting words: My Russians will love it! Be afraid, be VERY afraid... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

Jim Garber
Jun-22-2004, 8:30am
Yes, work tends to get in the way as usual. Interesting question your discourse on volume brings up. This applies to almost any instrument. Die to the nature of playing most instruments sound different to the player than they do to the audience.

My guitar player and I were rehearsing for a gig and he taped a few pieces. he later told me that the Pandini recorded with amazing clarity of tone. I knew it sounded good but I haven't heard anyone else play it across a room. When I one time went shopping with a friend for a violin we took turns standing on the other side of the room and playing the instruments under discussion to see what they sounded like from a distance.


Jun-22-2004, 8:59am
Naturally. In my highly biased view, it all boils down to "carrying your own weight", owning your very own slice of the frequency-spectrum.

To clarify: When in the opera orchestra, I rarely have to kill myself, hacking across the (bass) strings in order to be heard; all I need, instead, is the full, round, dark tone of a quality instrument (which, fortunately, I have) plus several things that have NOthing to do with volume and EVERYthing to do with projection, as perceived by the audience: pin-point intonation, razor-sharp rhythmic accuracy, and clarity of articulation— I don't claim to always attain such virtues, only to at least strive for them.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the mandolin (again IMHO) resonates in context of an ensemble due to its high pitch-range and its characteristic, unmistakeable tone-quality. Who can miss the tinkle of glass chimes, even amidst a rich, full sonority of (bowed) strings?

Again, the issue of "composer responsibility" comes to the fore: I, for example, DETEST the habit (common among ever so many Russian symphonists) of doubling the basses with low brass; the brass loses its sheen, the basses sound forced— net negative. I would suppose that the mandolin sounds better in some, worse in other textures.

Jun-27-2004, 10:02am
From a recent performance of my Diferencias by a former pupil of Mme. Volskaya, in the course of a competition— in Siberia, no less! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Jim Garber
Jun-27-2004, 10:25am

I can actually read the Cyrillic characters, tho not the language. Was that concert recorded?


Alex Timmerman
Jun-27-2004, 2:43pm
Congratulations to you Victor!

It is a wonderful composition!



Jun-28-2004, 6:40am
Thank you both. I must admit that I find #the Trans-Siberian journey of this little piece quite a hoot! (...especially since, by a chain-reaction of coincidences, my own grandfather was born in Siberia, right across from Japan! )

Jim, the adventures of this piece are quite odd: I made it public last fall not because it had been performed ("Clause A" of the contract with the commissioning party) but because an entire year had elapsed from the delivery-date without a public performance ("Clause B"). All I got to do is read it through for the dancer(s) who commissioned it, make a practice-tape for them—#no "public" performance; (too many personal/professional ills that befell the lead dancer to discuss here...)

Since then, Sebastiaan de Grebber put it on the web; Anastasia (the young Russian depicted above) used it as a contest-piece on the second round of the Star of the North Competition, before an adjudicating committee— she won! You, and perhaps several other MC-friends, may have played it for your own pleasure, in private.

Still, to date: nothing that would qualify in the usual sense as a "public performance", or recording in circulation... Quite an odd adventure, no? #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Jim Garber
Jun-28-2004, 9:04am
It is time for a real premiere of this lovely piece. Perhaps Tamara would play it in New York. I will try my darndest to make that one. Keep me posted.


Alex Timmerman
Jun-28-2004, 1:04pm
Hello Victor and Jim,

Today I was preparing the concert to be held at the 9th of July, that ends the school year of my mandolin and guitar students.

On the programme there will be compositions for guitar solo, guitar duo, violin and guitar, mandolin and guitar, and mandolin solo.

Pieces in the last category will include a Sonate (orig. for violin) by Telemann and the ´Diferencias´ by Victor Kioulaphides played by Ferdinand Binnendijk (his own choise!).
Of course it will not be a big concert, but it is open to the public and will be announced in the local newspapers. So it´s great fun, for at least three students are playing Victor´s piece now and looking forward how Ferdinand will perform it.



Jim Garber
Jun-28-2004, 1:09pm
Hi Alex:
Thanks for the concert announcement. As you can see, I have a hard enough time to get to a concert in New York. Imagine coming to one in the Netherlands. Someday, maybe, tho.


Jun-28-2004, 1:16pm
Wonderful! Please give young Ferdinand all my wishes and encouragement; please also remind him that Sebastiaan's interpretation, while spectacular, is also not the only one possible. No need to generate "carbon-copy" readings of the same score! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

For example, I am almost certain that Ms. Orlova must have played some of the variations rather rapidly, in the Russian allegro brillante manner, thereby showing off her spectacular string-crossing skills— I am sure that she did not win a prize for nothing! (and, mind you, with a piece that is not terribly difficult, no Calace prelude or anything of that technical caliber )

One can be meditative, or a bit sentimental, or virtuosic, or plain folksy... it's all good. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

In the meanwhile, German mandolinist Dorothea Leiskau may also perform Diferencias at the festival in Herongen; that, however, will probably be a bit later. Alex, to the best of my knowledge, Ferdinand can call his performance the world premiere! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif

Best of luck!

Alex Timmerman
Jun-28-2004, 1:45pm
Well Jim, as we have discussed earlier here, perhaps we (Het CONSORT) can come to New York in one or two years. When that comes true, I am sure one of us (Sebastiaan, Ferdinand or myself) will perform the ´Diferencias´ in the presence of the composer. You are invited of course!

By the way, we are now practising Victor´s ´Ionian Mandolinata´ for mandolin and guitar accompaniment, and although this music - unlike the ´Differencias´ and the ´Idillio´ - is of a completely different texture, it is excellent melodious material to learn for instance when and how to stop the appearing tremolo notes. Last week we studied - and enjoyed! - it with six mandolins, one mandola and two guitars.

Great fun.



Jun-28-2004, 2:02pm

I feel I am really hijacking dear Tamara's thread... (A most gracious lady: She just called to thank me yet again for the Idillio trivium.) So, I will make this my last post pertaining more to me and less to her.

Yet, like Alex and his students, so has Tamara and HER students played through my mandolinatas— there IS some legitimate connection, however tenuous... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

As Alex correctly points out, however, the texture of such folk-material is quite different from that of "classical" mandolin, what with interrupted, non-continuous tremolo, what with the typical, folksy pennate doppie ("double-stroke") instead of a "real", homogenized tremolo...

What can I say? The mandolin is a wonderfully rich, little instrument! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Of Mme. Volskaya from now on... *blush again*

Alex Timmerman
Jun-28-2004, 3:46pm
Ooooh Victor,

What about a nice third piece for solo mandolin to the ´Diferencias´ and the ´Idillio´. It could make a nice triptych...

And, while speaking in such a painters language, would an oil- or water painting from my hand be something I could do in return?

I´m sure many of us here - including Mme. Volskaya - are already looking forward to another original solo piece.

Many greetings,

http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif Alex

Jim Garber
Dec-03-2004, 10:10am
I just received this notice from the Lyric Chamber Music Society. Unfortuately, I just noticed that the price of the non-student tickets is on the high side IMHO. And they spelled Pettine incorrectly.


THE LYRIC CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF NEW YORK PRESENTS: RUSSIAN DUO, plus… WEDNESDAY,#### DECEMBER 8, 2004, 7:30 PM AT VICTOR BORGE# HALL Featuring Tamara Volskaya, Anatoliy Trofimov, and Richard Bishop

###The Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York presents Russian Duo, plus… a special evening with classical and Russian music performed on Russian folk instruments by the Russian Duo, joined at the piano by Lyric’s Artist-in-Residence Richard Bishop, Wednesday, December 8, 2004 at 7:30 PM at Victor Borge Hall, Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue. The Russian Duo stands for acclaimed Domra and Mandolin virtuoso Tamara Volskaya and her husband Anatoliy Trofimov, himself a renowned soloist on the Bayan.# The program includes works by Mozart, Schumann, Saint Saëns, Copland, Elgar, Alyabyev, Denis, Leoncavallo, Paganini, Galinin, and arrangements of popular Russian and Jewish tunes by Trofimov.#
### This special event in the Lyric’s current season showcases the whole musical range of the domra, a Russian instrument which is a member of the lute family, as well as the mandolin and the bayan, a Russian folk instrument that resembles the accordion. The program offers unusual and innovative renditions of well known music by classical composers such as Mozart, Schumann, Paganini, and Denis and bridges the gap to the 20th century with works by Leoncavallo, Elgar, Galinin and Copland. Typical Russian melodies by Alyabyev and folk tunes arranged by Trofimov highlight the instruments original sounds.
#### The Russian Duo was formed by Tamara Volskaya, known as an international ambassador for the domra and an equally gifted musician on the mandolin, and her husband Anatoliy Trofimov, an acclaimed artist with the bayan. In 1997, the Duo performed at Carnegie Hall as part of# the gala “America Salutes Moscow”. They have toured throughout the former Soviet Union, Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, and extensively in the U.S., where the two musicians took up residence in 1996. The Russian Duo was featured on NPR and ABC television. In the summer of 2004, the duo was invited to be a part of the Bard Music Festival honoring Shostakovich. Volskaya and Trofimov also established the Russian Carnival Ensemble which performs regularly in the New York area and has released two recordings.
Ticket Information
### Tickets for the concert on December 8, 2004, priced at $45, students $15, are available at Ticket Central, 212-279-4200 (12-8 pm daily), Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036 (12-8 pm daily) and on www.ticketcentral.com. Tickets are also available directly from the Lyric Chamber Music Society of New York at 212- 875-4230 or info@lyricny.org. www.lyricny.org
Program :
Wednesday, December 8, 2004, 7:30 PM
Victor Borge Hall
Scandinavia House, 58 Park Avenue (between 37th and 38th Street)

Russian Duo, plus . . .
Tamara Volskaya, Domra and Mandolin
Anatoliy Trofimov, Bayan
plus Richard Bishop, Piano

Alyabyev #### The Nightingale
Elgar #### #### Salut d'Amour
Mozart #### Rondo in G from Haffner serenade, arr. by F. Kreisler####
Schumann #### Träumerei
Saint Saëns #### Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
Copland #### “Hoe Down” from Rodeo, arr. by T. Volskaya
Denis #### #### Capriccio for mandolin solo####
Leoncavallo## “Vesti la Giubba” from Pagliacci for mandolin solo, arr. by G. Pettini###
Paganini# #### Carnival in Venice#####
Galinin #### Scherzo##########
Trofimov, arr. Russian Folk Songs: “The Willow” and “The Joy”#
Two Freilachs##
Dark Eyes (Ochi Chorniye)


Dec-03-2004, 11:03am
It should be wonderful but... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif a certain mercenary who comes to mind from time to time has a 7:30-10:30 p.m. opera rehearsal that same day.

Enjoy, ye that can attend. I will be there in mando-spirit.