Review by Julie Deshtor (English)


From the blog by Julie Deshtor

"Two Fates" by Astrakhan and Naumov

 Vadim Astrakhan, in collaboration with Yuri Naumov, has just released his new CD of Vladimir Vysotsky’s songs translated into English – “Two Fates“.

As a little girl living in Moscow, I was immersed in the world of Vladimir Vysotsky’s songs. Then, twenty years ago, my family relocated to the United States.  Since then, I have obtained my English degree from the University of Utah and launched my own literary career.

As a bilingual poet and writer, I have been actively translating not only Vysotsky’s work, but also the work of other Russian-speaking poets such as Sergei Esenin, Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Akhmatova, and others. Of these, I have found Vysotsky most challenging.  His multi-layered and complex language is particularly difficult to capture.

I have been following Vadim Astrakhan’s music and his translations of Vysotsky for some years now, and anticipated, with certain trepidation, the release of his new album “Two Fates”.  I knew of Vadim’s desire to modernize Vysotsky’s songs. I was also acutely aware of his love for the heavy metal genre. The idea of Vysotsky’s lyrics performed to a heavy metal/hard rock accompaniment was intimidating, to say the least.

Well, I must say that Vadim managed to pull it off! Though I’m not a fan of heavy metal, I can’t help but say that the music, production and presentation of “Two Fates” is superb.

The songs:

“Gypsy Blues (Tziganskaya)” has literally been given a new life, with lyrics, music and ambiance that brought it into the new century, allowing English-speaking listeners to experience the raw energy and intensity of this long-time Russian favorite.

“When the Great Flood Waters Had Subsided” was never one of my favorites as performed by Vysotsky.  To my utter surprise, I found that I enjoyed Vadim’s version of this song more than I ever did the original.

Other personal favorites: “Race to the Horizon”, “Tale of the Wild Boar” and “A Merry Funeral Song” skillfully convey the original tone and implication of the songs.

At the same time, my English-speaking friends, especially those with military background, are deeply moved by “Death Convoy.” Others are amused by Vadim’s rendition of the “Why Did the Savages Eat Captain Cook.” A few professional rock climbers that I know relate well to Vadim’s version of “If Your Friend.”

Overall, the album is a resounding success. Through his daring and unique vision, Vadim Astrakhan has managed to achieve what few had considered possible: he brought the spirit of Vladimir Vysotsky’s work into the modern age and in a format that is meaningful, accessible and engaging to the present-day English-speaking audience.

 Julie Deshtor, 2012



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