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Red Army Choir

1 hour, 30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 04 December 2011

It might seem a kitsch throwback to the days when music was an essential weapon in the Soviet armoury, but the Red Army Choir still sets the benchmark for military music-making some 80 odd years since it was founded. Now known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, the company of singers, players and dancers still tours the world as a cultural envoy of the Russian state. Aled Jones uncovers the history of the group, from its first glory years when it performed a vital role in promoting culture amongst the members of the Soviet military. He follows it through the Second World War when it gave an astounding 1500 concerts to motivate the troups, and then the post-war years when it had to re-invent itself as a vehicle for national pride across the world despite political resistance to its concerts in the West.

Also in the programme, Birmingham-based Black Voices share their passion for a cappella singing, with an infectious blend of gospel, blues, jazz, African and Caribbean styles, and there's a masterclass in close-harmony virtuosity from Norwegian ensemble Pust.

Music Played

15 items
Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes
  • Image for A Abramov / R. Plaksine

    A Abramov / R. Plaksine My Army (excerpt) arr. N. Istratov

    Performer: The Red Army Choir

    Silva Classics

  • Image for Traditional

    Traditional En reell halling arr. Havard Gravdal & Elisabeth Havard

    Performer: Pust

    Pust Records

  • Image for Vasily Soloviev-Sedoi

    Vasily Soloviev-Sedoi Let's Go

    Performer: The Red Army Choir

    Silva Classics

  • Image for Alexander Alexandrov

    Alexander Alexandrov Echelon's Song

    Performer: The Red Army Choir

    Silva Classics

  • Image for A. Navrotsky

    A. Navrotsky The Cliff (Cliff on the River Volga)

    Performer: Leonid Kharitonov (bass), The Soviet Army Chorus & Band, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    Album: Songs of the Russian Revolution

  • Image for Traditional Ukrainian

    Traditional Ukrainian Traditional Ukrainian - Bandura

    Performer: Ivan Savchuk (tenor), Vladimiri Fyodorov (bass), Alexandrov Ensemble, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    EMI Classics, 3 92031 2, tr 7

  • Image for [traditional]

    [traditional] The Courageous Don Cossacks arr. Boris Alexandrov

    Performer: Alexandrov Ensemble, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    Private 1963 recording, taken onstage at the Albert Hall

  • Image for A V Alexandrov / V. Lebedev-Kumach

    A V Alexandrov / V. Lebedev-Kumach Sacred War - military full chorus -1941 version

    Performer: the Red Army Choir, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov (conductor)

    Taken from a rare, limited edition record, Israel records

  • Image for Glinka / N. Koukolnik

    Glinka / N. Koukolnik The Road Song

    Performer: The Red Army Choir,Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    Silva Classics

  • Image for Alexander Alexandrov

    Alexander Alexandrov Alexander Alexandrov - Ukrainian Poem

    Performer: Aleksei Sergeiev (bass), Alexandrov Ensemble, Boris Alexandrov (conductor)

    EMI Classics, 3 92031 2, tr 13

  • Image for Sven-David Sandstrøm

    Sven-David Sandstrøm A New Song of Love

    Performer: Swedish Radio Choir, Peter Dijsktra (conductor)

    Channel Classics

  • Image for Louise Robinson

    Louise Robinson Street Suite

    Performer: Black Voices

    The Reason I Cry, BV004, 7

  • Image for Daniel Brinsmead

    Daniel Brinsmead Come Sleep

    Performer: Eric Whitacre Singers, Eric Whitacre (conductor)

    Private recording

  • Image for John David

    John David You are The New Day arr. Peter Knight

    Performer: Convivium Singers

    Convivium Records

  • Image for Robert Parsons

    Robert Parsons Magnificat

    Performer: The Cardinall’s Musick, Andrew Carwood (conductor)



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