VVCD - 00099

ADD 59.53

Georg Friedrich Handel
12 Concerti grossi, op.6

Lev Markiz
The Soloists Ensemble

Recorded: 1968
Editor: M. Segelman
Restoration: Vista Vera, 2006.

The 3-piece CD series presenting Handel's 12 concerti grossi is of double significance to me. Firstly, these recordings made in the early 1970s reflect the then conception of performing the music of the Baroque era and is a part of the history of musical performance; secondly, they are connected with another history, my personal history, and a very interesting episode of it.
The Soloists Ensemble that you will hear in these CDs had recorded a vast variety of musical works at the All-Union Radio's and Melodia Records studios. It was a rather unusual and bizarre phenomenon of the Soviet musical reality. Officially, it just did not exist! At that time, any performer - be it a full orchestra, a string quartet, a trio, a soloist or anybody! - was supposed to belong to some official Soviet organization, such as philharmonics, radio, Mosconcert, Rosconcert, Gastrolburo, etc. The Soloists Ensemble, however, did not belong to any of it, being, pure and simple, a private enterprise, something that at that time was regarded as illegal and suspicious. Moreover, the ensemble did not have a constant set of musicians, nor administrative body over it.
It all began back in the late 1960s when I had finally come to realize that it was futile to try to make my orchestra "outboundable", i. e. to seek the officials' consent to allow us to go on performing tours abroad, though Western impresarios bombarded us with their offers. My persona was highly non-grata for Soviet authorities, indeed. And I quit.
So, I found myself jobless, and when the Moscow Philharmonics Director Mitrofan Kuzmich Belotserkovsky offered me a "roof above my head" as a soloist of the Madrigal Ensemble, however strange that might seem, I was very much grateful to him and promptly agreed. In this new position, I was totally free to embark on any of my "conductor's enterprises". Then, it dawned on me that I could proceed with the studio recordings that I began at the All-Union Radio studios with my orchestra in the 1960s. Back then, we received much help from a wonderful woman, the Chief Musical Editor of the International Radio Broadcasts Directorate Yekaterina Alexeyevna Andreyeva, a high-cultured and sophisticated musician herself, of remarkably broad scope and immaculate taste. She was responsible for the many recordings of contemporary music that was semi-banned at the time, and she somehow managed to circumvent the ban, on a pretext that those recordings were basically made for international listeners.
Andreyeva suggested that I would have completed the program of recordings contracted to my former orchestra, while picking good musicians specially for this task. I followed her advice, which gave birth to a magnificent orchestra under a rather neutral name "The Soloists Ensemble", with whom in the subsequent 10 or 12 years I recorded hundreds pieces of music at the Moscow Radio's and Melodia Records' studios. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this orchestra (its number varied depending on the particular score, and sometimes it amounted to 55 musicians) consisted of the finest performers - the cream of Moscow's musical elite. We worked in this way: I would obtain a recording order (from Ye. Andreyeva or K. Kirilenko), ordered a studio at the All-Union Radio's Recording Center on Kachalova Street and then… I would get on the phone. I had approximately 140 performers on my list - soloists, ensemblists, all of them the best musicians from the capital city's best orchestras. It was sufficient for me to make a phone-call and say: "On the twenty second this month, first studio, rehearsals begin at five in the afternoon, will you be available?" I still keep wondering how come nobody ever let me down, and if somebody could not show up, a replacement was duly provided. Ironically, the performers would come to the studio without a prior knowledge of what exactly they were supposed to play and record! Understandably, that was only possible thanks to the highest professionalism of all my colleagues.
I would come to the studio with an accurately edited orchestration, and we, without losing a minute, would rehearse for an hour and a half. Then, the recording session would start. It is hard to believe but, with rare exceptions, we managed to complete our work that same night, as it was very much inconvenient for us to reschedule the recording session.
I always worked together with my regular sound engineers - Rita Kozhukhova, Erik Pazukhin and Alik Yunk at the All-Union Radio Studio, and Igor Veprintsev and Yelena Buneyeva at Melodia Records. I could write a long poem about each of them, as they all are the history of the then recording business, and I am so much grateful to these unique people.
Now a few words about my friends, The Ensemble members. I can not possibly name them all here, but, at least, some of them I will: flutist Valentin Zverev, clarinetists Vladimir Sokolov and Lev Mikhailov, bassoonist Valeri Popov, French hornist Alexander Kuznetsov, kettledrummer Valentin Snegiryov, violinists Andrei Abramenkov and Boris Kunyev, cellists Yuli Turovsky and Mikhail Milman, contrabassist Rifat Komachkov… They all (I beg pardon of all those whom I omitted) made it possible for that unique "invisible" ensemble to become an exceptional phenomenon in our nation's musical history leaving behind the rich heritage in the musical archives.
After I emigrated from the USSR in 1981, all our recordings were banned and ordered to be destroyed; however, nameless heroes bravely preserved them, and now, in this new era, they are being reissued in Russia. So, to paraphrase the famous saying, musical recordings, like manuscripts, "do not burn", too.
I would like to dedicate these CDs to those my friends of "The Soloists Ensemble" who, regrettably, are no longer with us today.
Lev Markiz
Translated by Oleg Alyakrinsky


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