The album consist of recording made in Russia and America in Russian and English. Russian recordings made with the best Moscow classical and jazz musicians, including and influential early music ensemble Madrigal. American recordings made with Mark Hamilton, electric guitars, electronics and Dannie Keily, acoustic bass.
1. Magic Forest I dreamed about a world of children and animals playing together on the white sand by the river, a world where no doors are locked, a world you would never forget even after dreaming it.
2. Among the Roses (a poem by Walter de la Mare) A land on the other side of the river of oblivion, a phoenix burning and resurrecting by a tree of life. Nobody told me about this forgotten paradise, but I walked there among the roses. I know you, a stranger; you come into my heart between dreams and awakening…
3. A Gilliam de Cabestagne Ballade I came across this 12th century tale while reading a 13th century story. I also read Gillome’s poetry in Russian translation... I imagined myself as a Middle Age minstrel telling this story to his contemporaries and wrote Gilliome and von Lichen ballades in that mode. Gilliome was a troubadour, a knight-poet who fell in love with Soremonda, the wife of his senior, Duke Raymond, who was a brutal, jealous man. Raymond killed Gilliome and had his heart roasted and served to his wife. After she tried it, Raymond told her that she just ate the Gillome’s heart. Soremnda responded that she never tasted anything better in her life and then threw herself from the castle balcony. The King of Aragon heard about what happened, summoned Raymond and put him in prison, where he eventually died. Soremonda and Gilliome were buried in one grave , which became a place of pilgrimage for lovers who prayed for Soremonda’s and Gilliome’s souls for many years.
4. Graf von Lichen Ballade Graf (Count) joined the Second Crusade in the quest to liberate Jerusalem and the Holy Land from the Muslim nemesis. He was taken prisoner by the noble Saracen and became his gardener. His captor’s daughter fell in love with Graf and arranged for their escape. The grateful knight vowed fidelity to her. They reached his domain, the city of Erfurt, where Graf’s wife offered Saracen to become her sister. The Countess managed to obtain a special permission from the Pope for their ménage de trios. The three of them lived together happily ever after. I read this story in The Notes of a Russian Traveler, a book written by Nikolai Karamzin, an18th century Russian writer and traveler who claimed that he saw a grave stone in Erfurt with profiles of Graf and his two wives engraved on it.
5. Under the Moon Drinking Alone A poem written by 8th century Chinese poet Li Bo. A poet drinking wine among the flowers together with the moon and his own shadow. “Farewell until we all meet among the stars.”
6. Bonfire Look at the fire burning in the dark on a lake shore. Listen to the wind lamenting in the shore grass. Dreams can die easily in the cold twilight of disbelief, but look at the distant fire on another side; somebody answered your call so two of you can burn together in one song.
7. Wave to Me You might try to fall asleep with your light on or burrow deeper into your bed…You might leave your sweet home to find someone who will trust you instantly...The windows shine in the night; there are people who cannot sleep. If you will pass my window one day – wave at me if you see me.
8. Asking My Friend a poem by a 9th century Chinese poet Bai Juyi. “I planted an orchid, but I didn’t plant wormwood. They grow with their roots and stems intertwined. I cannot water the orchid because I don’t want to water wormwood. I cannot pull the wormwood out because I am afraid to hurt my orchid. Can you help me with any advice, my dear friend?”
9. On the Road a poem by Russian-Jewish poet Ovsei Driz, the only Russian-Jewish poet who survived Stalin’s slaughter on the Night of Poets. “I see a river – in a moment, it’s no longer there; I see a girl and a blooming lilac, I break a flowering branch and throw it to the girl who’s no longer there; the train is running without stopping; here comes the tunnel –and I am no longer there.”
10. Kaddish It is a tribute to Janos Korchak, a Polish-Jewish educator and writer, the author of “King Matthew the First.” Korchak managed an orphanage in Warsaw and continued his work under Nazi occupation in the Warsaw Ghetto. His literary fame and the patronage offered by one educated Nazi gave him a chance to escape and save his life, but he chose to stay with his children. They marched together to the death camp where they all perished. “Pick up a handful of dust from the warm road and throw it into the wind…The crows descended on naked forest, an icy wind blasts, it is a trouble for homeless…Mama, who is knocking at our window? Hush, my baby, it s only rain and wind…You will see stars ripening on the velvet sky in your dream; you will play with other children in a flowering garden in the land of milk and honey where no one kills anybody.”
11. The Wind a song based on a Walter de la Mare’s poem “Nobody Knows.” I heard a wind sighing by the ivy, orchard wall… it comes from the stars, but nobody knows what the wind is … All of us, beast and men, dwell on the ocean floor; we all float together after losing our shells to a place where the new day will be born.”
12. Gulp of Freedom This song was the first song played by a Moscow radio after the failed coup in August of 1991. I toast the people who didn’t find rest and peace at home and left without locking their doors, the people who did not care for the feast of the satisfied; I wish a stranger will find a shady grove and a clear spring in a burning day, I hope he will avoid stones tossed at him…Whatever happens in your life, I believe you will never forget how sweet it was – the very first gulp of freedom.”