With the release of Marija Golubova: Stāsti un dziesmas, the Rīga-based UPE Recording Co. has begun a new series of recordings named Mantojums (Inheritance). The compact disc is one of three titles released last December.
Marija Golubova is a simple country woman from the far northeastern corner of Latvia, very near the border with the Abrene region, which is currently under Russian control. Stories and songs have always been an important part of her life, and on Stāsti un dziesmas (Stories and Songs) we hear a few of the stories from her long life—from walking barefoot through the snow after her husband’s arrest to her father’s recipe for beer to her admiration of ants and the whole of nature.
In between the stories, Golubova sings about a dozen of her songs, most of which are not part of the average Latvian’s repertoire. But it’s exactly for that reason that I was very happy to listen to the CD, because I like to hear new songs. All of the songs are, of course, sung in the Latgallian dialect, and two are Russian songs. In “Voi toutīt, kūkacīt,” Golubova sings a long string of verses to a melody more commonly known for its soldier words (“Div’ dūjiņas”). Another is a Jāņi song with the ļeigū refrain. Some of the other songs are: “Lec, saulīte, rijtā agri,” “Voi celinu man nabeja,” “Toutīts mani carādams,” “Patijk man tis kaļnins,” “Tī bej labi olu dzerti,” and “Skanu baļsini palaidu.”
It seems that most of the songs are in minor keys, not uncommon for Latvian songs. But it’s too bad that the CD does not include the song texts, because deciphering them just by listening to them is difficult. Most listeners will also really have to concentrate to understand even half of Golubova’s stories because of the heavy dialect.
There’s no way of putting it nicely—Golubova is an old lady, her voice cracks and goes in and out of tune, and she’s probably a few teeth short, too. But don’t you dare make fun of her. She still has amazing strength and confidence behind her 97-year-old voice, deep emotion in her stories, and a difficult life to describe.
Marija Golubova: Stāsti un dziesmas is not something you would put on as pleasant background music at your next dinner party. But it is an important and interesting recording for those who appreciate oral history and the real “roots” of folk music.
The other two recordings released in December are Pasaules radīšana, featuring creation stories told by Leons Krivāns, and Putnu un zvēru valoda, with stories about the language of birds and animals told by Pēteris Liepiņš.
Marija Golubova: Stāsti un dziesmas
UPE Recording Co., 2003
UPE CD 056
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