Saturday, July 26, 2014

Evolution of a Song - from Latvia, Russia, Voznesensky, Pugacheva, South Korea, Shinee, and a Gayageum, with love

...And now it's time for something completely different.

My daughter, who was born in Russia, but has just returned from a prolonged sojourn abroad in South Korea, brought this song to my attention. "Do you recognize it?" she asked with a curious smirk on her face. It sounded strangely familiar, then it hit me: this was a Korean version of the Russian song (which was a remake of a Latvian song written by Raimunds Pauls and first performed in 1981), A Million Roses, which featured lyrics by the Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky.

In Korean, with Mongolian subtitles.

I watched the above, mesmerized. Jonghyun, a member of the well-known boy-band band Shinee, sings under the critical eyes of an Ajumma or two, one of whom, I believe, performed a version of the song in a Korean film:

But below is the version of the song that really floored me, accompanied by the traditional Korean gayageum. My daughter informs me that this translation into Korean from Russian is a more literal one. Gayageum jam session!

The musical ensemble performing below is
Infinity of Sound.

There are just no words to describe my reaction....but this is my favorite Korean version.

The inspiration for the lyrics of this song apparently originated in a story Andrei Voznesensky heard about the Georgian painter, Niko Pirosmani, who once, in a grand gesture, drove several carts to a square near the hotel in Tbilisi where his Muse, a French actress named Margarita was staying, and filled the area with a multitude of flowers.

Girl With Flowers (Margarita), Niko Pirosmani

Alla Pugacheva's famous Russian version.

....A million, million, million red roses
From your window, from your window
From your window you can see
Who's in love, who's in love
Who's seriously in love with you
Will turn their life into flowers for you.

In 2010, Alexander Anichkin posted an excellent remembrance of the poet Voznesensky at his blog, Tetradki (A Russian Review of Books.)

Here is a translation of a poem of Voznesensky's by W. H. Auden, from The New York Review of Books.

My Achilles Heart

In these days of unheard-of suffering
One is lucky indeed to have no heart:
Crack-shots plug me again and again,
But have no luck.

Riddled with holes, I laugh
At the furious pack: “Tally-ho, boys!
I am a lattice. Look through me.
Isn’t the landscape lovely?”

But suppose a gun should locate,
Tied by an aching thread,
Beating a hair’s breadth off target,
My Achilles heart.

Beware, my darling. Hush. Not a sound,
While I charge noisily
From place to place around Russia,
As a bird diverts the hunters from its nest.

Are you still in pain? Do you act up at night?
This defenseless extra is what saves me.
Do not handle it roughly;
The shudder would bring me down.

Our destruction is unthinkable,
More unthinkable what we endure,
More unthinkable still that a sniper
Should ever sever the quivering thread.

—translated by W.H. Auden


Harlequin said...

A lot of thought and work to produce a very interesting post ... Well done indeed.

Iulia Flame said...

That really is the kindest comment. 'Tis more of muddle of a series of synchronicities in my very chaotic existence...and yet... :)

Here is a poem of Joseph Brodsky's a somewhat ironic one, but nonetheless witty and lovely in its own way, regarding Arlecchino, sung by Polina Agureeva..

Harlequin said...

Your gentle nudge in the direction of Voznesensky & Joseph Brodsky was most interesting. Life in testament to the currency of words. I speak no Russian but fortunately much has been translated. Thank you for this introduction

Iulia Flame said...

You are quite welcome. Given all the time in the world, I'd translate the Brodsky lyrics. :) .... Perhaps I'll come back to it later.

the song of a shell sapphire melting inside jade a color unnamed Ofra Haza's version of this song defies categoriz...

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