> Volnitza Ensemble from Rostov
Cossack! A name evoking horsemen, open steppes, virility and wild beauty. Russians ? Certainly the Cossacks are Russian... or maybe not quite, with something else added. The Cossack musical repertory includes war hymns; songs of separation, songs of farewell to the loved one, to the mother, to the clan; songs of ritual abduction, wedding feasts, the laments of the bride; mourning songs; prayers and canticles; songs of praise for the great heroes of the past; and epic songs, known as byeline. Like the majority of Russian songs, Cossack songs are polyphonic and responsorial : the soloist starts singing each stanza, and the choir answers with interlacing vocals, the results of which are quite lovely.
The Volnitza ensemble, from Rostov, is composed of nine men and women has been working for several years now collecting Cossack songs on both banks of the Don. Conscious of the fragility of their culture, they are trying to perpetuate a living oral memory. The style of their interpretation, heightened with passion, is brilliant, forceful and emotional.