Bohemian Rhapsody: or When Chamber Orchestra Replaces Rock Group

Bohemian Rhapsody: or When Chamber Orchestra Replaces Rock Group

The news that a rock concert dedicated to the “Queen” Cult Band is coming soon in the Turkmen capital was quickly spread around the music and near-musical lovers of Ashgabat.

And so, long before the start of this cultural event called “Bohemian Rhapsody”, people politely asking about an extra ticket began to be seen around Vatan Cinema Hall.

Those wishing to get to the concert were not even stopped by the fact that not foreign musicians will perform the hits of the legendary hard rock group, but local vocalists and an orchestra (imagine – a chamber!) conducted by young but already known leader and conductor Tahir Atayev, who is called by musicians “the soul of the collective.”

Someone was busy with searching any acquaintance person among the staff of the cinema and concert hall, while someone was lucky to have a ticket purchased long before the concert or even to have a special invitation from organizers of the concert.

In any case, the visitors, including youth and those who belonged to its category thirty years ago, took their seats as quick as possible in well-organized manner without any offense.

But when each chair-seeker took his seat, it made them to think that time was running out too slowly, while the most impatient ones made applause to get the artists to the stage where instruments and song-scores have been waiting for them.

However, it is well known that everything has not only end, but also start. Under the same friendly applause, the musicians started to come to the stage and to tune the instruments.

This is one of the most mystical moments, in my opinion, no less interesting than the concert itself.

I do not visit such music events very often, but when there is an opportunity, I do really enjoy and wild about the moments when musicians tune their instruments.

This is real chaos: all kinds of violins, cello, double basses and other unfamiliar instruments, randomly, one by one, make sounds, paying no attention to anyone or anything.

Then the conductor taps his wand on the remote control, a sharp wave of his hand up and – oh, magic! This completely extravagant mess of sounds in the twinkling of an eye turns into music of subtle harmony.

In such cases, the conductor seems to me to be God, who, having ordered chaos created the Universe that is harmonious in all meaning…

The concert can be divided into two sections: the first part consists of more or less well-known works of Turkmen, Russian, Turkish and Azerbaijani composers, while the second part consists of hits from world rock legends.

And this, surprisingly, the music and songs of John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and “Queen” – still (even after many years) have not been overthrown from the capricious pedestal of great rock musicians.

It was too impudent challenge to the giants of rock music from the side of the still little known orchestra (note – the chamber orchestra) and young vocalists.

By the way, the reason why I got to the concert at Vatan Hall was my desire to be a witness whether the participants of the show, who bet with the great ones, could withstand the blow from their side.

Let me remind you that I am not a musician, and I do not really know differences between sheet music and Chinese hieroglyphs. Therefore, my statements are nothing more than the thoughts aloud of an ordinary amateur, who listening to music sometimes.

The first part of the concert was relatively peaceful. Hope, orchestra musicians who deserve many kind words to their address will forgive me for this. Much of music they performed in the first part was quite complex (especially Sinfonietta by U.C. Erkin, as well as Symphony for Strings, Part 4, by F.Aminov), musicians did their job excellent with honor.

However, they had to hold the main exam in the second part of the concert, called the “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Named after famous song and the long-suffering musical drama film, which, before receiving Oscar award in four nominations, had to change several directors, screenwriters, producers and leading actors.

Someone still asks: what should the rhapsody really be in Russian – “Bogemnaya” (“Bohemian”) or “Bogemskaya”? And what is difference between these two words?

I would answer without slyness – both names in Russian give same meaning. Except that “Bogemnaya” is a correct form from the point of view of post-modern Russian, while “Bogemskaya” is more usual.

The difficulty for the performers was not only that the songs selected for the concert were within hearing by everyone (such as, for example, by Murad Sadykov and Arno Babajanyan), but also those that had long gone beyond the boundaries of ordinary popularity, becoming hits of the era. Like, for example, “We are the Champions”, which for many years has been an unwritten sports anthem in many countries. Or “We Will Rock You”, which in the mass consciousness is generally described as a symbol of rock culture.

The audience welcomed songs very warm, singing along to the performers – Kakadjan Haldurdiev and Alexander Kochetov.

However, the charming vocalist Bahar Durdyeva had “a heavy burden”. She is opera singer. As earlier ORIENT featured about her, she likes to experiment with music. And her passion led to the legendary “Queen” and “The Beatles”.

Of course, her outstanding vocal abilities helped to finely perform “Love of My Life”. It is known that Freddie Mercury wrote several songs about Mary Austin who was the “love of his life”, the most notable of which is “Love of My Life”.

Bahar performed “The Show Must Go On”. It was not bad, though with less success. Maybe, it was due to the lack of a gloomy life experience, while she is very talented singer.

The song chronicles the effort of Freddie Mercury continuing to perform despite approaching the end of his life, although his diagnosis had not yet been made public in spite of ongoing media speculation claiming that he was seriously ill. It makes the song the kind of sincere confession. The lyrics are full of allusions, metaphors and other figures of speech, making it somewhat difficult to understand as well as to perform it.

As to vocal, Bahar performed it well, while the internal drama was weak (maybe, it was due to her young age).

However, she passed the exam with John Lennon’s Imagine with mark “excellent!”

By the way, there were good compositional connection between “The Beatles” and “Queen”. The latter, even when they became a living classic, did not hide that they had always experienced the powerful influence of the Fab Liverpool Four.

When press constantly pursued the greatness of The Beatles, their virtuoso drummer Ringo Starr, who was always sitting on a small platform during concerts, behind John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, constantly expressed doubts about newspaper ratings.

“All I see are three great asses whose owners sing and play to such a roar of fans that I can only hear fragments of lyrics and fragments of music,” Ringo said.

However, not everything was so smooth with the Fab Four – two of them died years ago. Freddie Mercury as part of “Queen” performed the most important Lennon’s song Imagine, written after the band’s break-up, at the famous Wembley Stadium in London just two days after the shot of John Lennon. It was a tribute to great John Lennon.

In 2004, The Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Imagine at #3 in its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

And this song performed by Bahar Durdyeva became “Bohemian Rhapsody” festival’s ornament in Ashgabat.

Let me remind once again that Bahar Durdyeva has wonderful vocal capabilities, but, as I always thought, there is no need to have a special voice to sing Imagine. Here the soul of the performer along with deep understanding of what you are singing about are more important, rather than a well placed voice.

Lennon himself was rather singing the lyrics of the song rather than trying to sing it in the traditional sense.

Bahar succeeded in combining all three – understanding of great truths, the quivering soul of the performer and wonderful vocal.

… The world, as you know, is multipolar. Therefore, I would like to forestall those who do not share the thoughts expressed, and those, perhaps, who are indignant with. In addition, I would say that the point of view of the author does not always comes with the opinion of the editors. In turn, the editorial staff is not responsible for the position of the author.

And, as a final chord, as the musicians say: “Coda!”

And do not forget: when the music sounds, the guns sound very quiet!

With love for everyone – for both those understanding and indignant.

Aleksandr BAYRIYEV