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Thread: Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)

  1. #1
    Registered User Martin Jonas's Avatar
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    Jun 2003
    Northop, North Wales

    Default Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)

    Irving Berlin (1927): "Russian Lullaby"

    This is one of the few tunes by Irving Berlin that references his ethnic roots in Eastern Europe. A huge success on its original publication, it has since then been recorded in a vast variety of different styles, many of them sounding neither Russian nor like a lullaby (e.g. John Coltrane's high-tempo jazz version). I have listened to a lot of recorded versions over the past couple of days, and none of them sound anything like each other. This puts me in good company: mine sounds nothing like any of them although it does (I hope) have some of the plain simplicity of the Leon Redbone version.

    In mandolin circles, the tune is mainly known through the very nice (and very jazzy) Jerry Garcia/David Grisman version. Mine sounds nothing like that one, either.

    My recording is based on a setting of the chorus only (no intro, break or verse, but a very nice bass line) for string quintet by Jura Dyadichin which I found at Musescore:

    This doesn't have any of the jazz or swing elements found in most arrangements, and instead goes back to a very Russian brooding mood while preserving Berlin's chromatic passages and harmonies. The original was in waltz time, but like most later arrangements this one is in 4/4 time.

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    Last edited by Martin Jonas; Jul-15-2019 at 4:42pm.

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  3. #2
    Registered User
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    Sep 2002
    North Carolina

    Default Re: Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)

    Another hip version is here (the first I heard, 1974)
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)

    Less is more in my opinion.
    very reminiscent of balalaika, domra, and contrabass (The flying Triangle).
    Great version Martin. Thanks.

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  6. #4
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Palmer, Texas

    Default Re: Russian Lullaby (Irving Berlin)

    Thanks for sharing Martin, it's a righteous tune.

    I listen to Brian Oberlin's version fairly often:

    It's one of Brian's free tracks available from his site here:
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