Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Total Balalaika Show

FI 1993. PC: Sputnik Oy. P+D: Aki Kaurismäki. DP: Heikki Ortamo - with Pekka Aine, Tahvo Hirvonen, Timo Salminen, Olli Varja - with assistents Heikki Färm, Esa Illi, Seppo Louhi, Rauno Ronkainen - shot on super 16 - film print on 35 mm. Music recording: Heikki Savolainen. Music mixing: Mauri Sumén, Heikki Savolainen, Pemo Ojala. ED: Timo Linnasalo.

Leningrad Cowboys: Twist-Twist Erkinharju (drums), Ben Granfelt (guitar), Sakke Järvenpää (vocals, guitar, drums), Jore Marjaranta (vocals), Ekke Niiva (harmonica, saxophone), Lyle Närvänen (guitar), Pemo Ojala (trumpet, alto horn), Silu Seppälä (bass), Mauri Sumén (accordeon, keyboards), Mato Valtonen (vocals, guitar, hand drum).

The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble with 100 singers, 40 orchestra musicians, and 20 ballet dancers.

Presenter: Kirsi Tykkyläinen. 57 min. Viewed at 35 mm at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 8 Dec 2010

Total Balalaika Show is a documentary about a remarkable concert on 12 June 1993 at the Helsinki Senate Square, Finland's most prominent square, surrounded by the Helsinki Cathedral, the Cabinet of Finland and the Helsinki University.

There were 50.000 - 70.000 spectators on the square, more than it can fit. I was nearby that night but seeing the crowds did not even think about trying to squeeze in. After this screening I had coffee with a friend who was there that night and told that it was hard to make sense of the music in the actual concert.

This joint concert of Leningrad Cowboys and the Red Army Ensemble was one of the most important performances worldwide to celebrate the fall of the Iron Curtain. No matter that the music of neither of the two ensembles is their best. This is not something one would like to listen to out of this context. This performance is concept art, and the film is a solid documentary on it. We see 14 of the 24 numbers in their entirety. Aki Kaurismäki shows good judgment in keeping this a straight record without special emphases.

This film is a document of happiness about the end of the Cold War.

Total Balalaika Show has been transmitted several times on tv and it has been popular on vhs and dvd. Very few have seen it on 35 mm, but only on a big screen one can have the experience of space and the scope of the crazy spectacle.

Song list beyond the jump break:


1. Finlandia-hymni
Säv. Jean Sibelius, san. V. A. Koskenniemi
Es. The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 1' 10".

2. Let's Work Together
Säv. ja san. Wilbert Harrison, sov. Mauri Sumén -- Vjatšeslav Korobko
Es. Jore Marjaranta, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 2' 25".

3. Ej utšnem / Volga Boatmen / Volgan lautturien laulu
Säv. ja san. trad. venäl., sov. Boris Alexandrov
Es. Valeri Gavva, laulu venäjäksi, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 3' 50".

4. Happy Together
Säv. ja san. Garry Bonner -- Alan Gordon, sov. Timo Ojala -- Vladimir Ogarkov
Es. Jore Marjaranta ja Mihail Mozalin, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 2' 35".

5. Delilah
Säv. ja san. Leslie Reed -- John Mason, sov. Mauri Sumén -- Viktor Fjodorov
Es. Sakari Kuosmanen, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 4' 15".

6. Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Säv. ja san. Bob Dylan, sov. Mauri Sumén -- Vladimir Ogarkov
Es. Jore Marjaranta, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 5' 55".

7. Poljuška pole / Oh, Field / Kasakkapartio
Säv. ja san. Lev Knipper, san. V. Gusev
Es. The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 2' 45".

8. Kalinka
Säv. ja san. trad. venäl., sov. Boris Alexandrov
Vasili Ivanovitš Štefutsa, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 5' 00".

9. Gimme All Your Lovin'
Säv. Billy Gibbons -- Dusty Hill, san. Frank Beard, sov. Mauri Sumén -- Vladimir Ogarkov -- Leningrad Cowboys
Es. Jore Marjaranta, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 3' 00".

10. Jewellery Box (instrum.)
Säv. P. Hmelnitski -- Viktor Fjodorov -- Vjatšeslav Korobko
Es. The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 4' 50".

11. Sweet Home Alabama
Säv. ja san. Ronnie van Zant -- Ed King -- Gary Rossington, sov. Timo Ojala -- Vladimir Ogarkov
Es. Jore Marjaranta, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 4' 35".

12. Otši tšornyje / Dark Eyes / Mustat silmät
Säv. ja san. trad. venäl., sov. Vladimir Ogarkov
Es. Valeri Gavva, laulu, ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 4' 35".

13. Those Were The Days
Säv. ja san. trad. -- Gene Raskin, sov. Mauri Sumén -- Viktor Fjodorov
Es. Jore Marjaranta ja Eduard Labkovski, laulu, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), kahdessa osassa, yht. 4' 30".

14. Padam padam
Säv. Henri Contet, san. Edith Piaf, sov. Mauri Sumén
Es. Kirsi Tykkyläinen, laulu ranskaksi, Leningrad Cowboys ja The Alexandrov Red Army Ensemble, joht. Igor Agafonnikov (100 %), 0' 25".

Konsertin ja elokuvan musiikista koostettiin cd-levy Total Balalaika Show -- Helsinki Concert (Plutonium PLUTOCD 7004, 1993). Musiikkinumero 14 esitetään musiikkinumeron 13 välikkeenä.

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