Pjotr Leschenko: Gloomy Sunday
- 1 Skutschno (Langweilig) - Tango Start
- 2 U Samowara (Am Samowar) - Foxtrott Start
- 3 Mratschnoje Woskresenje (Trauriger Sonntag) - Romanze Start
- 4 Ty I Eta Gitara (Du und diese Gitarre) - Tango Start
- 5 Vjesjelis Duscha (Seele, du sollst heiter sein) - Romanze Start
- 6 Uwjali Grezy (Die Träume sind verwelkt) - Tango Start
- 7 Saschka - Foxtrott Start
- 8 Serenada (Serenade) - Romanze Start
- 9 Miranda - Tango Start
- 10 Kawkaz (Kaukasus) - Foxtrott Start
- 11 Komarik (Kleine Mücke) - Ukrainisches Volkslied Start
- 12 Spi, Moje Bednoje Serdtse (Schlaf, mein armes Herz) - Tango Start
- 13 Karije Otschi (Kastanienbraune Augen) - Ukrainisches Volkslied Start
- 14 Marfuscha - Foxtrott Start
- 15 Wino Ljubwi (Wein der Liebe) - Tango Start
- 16 Loschadki (Die Pferdchen) - Foxtrott Start
- 17 Pesn Gitary (Gitarrenlied) - Romanze Start
- 18 Ja By Tak Chotel Ljubit (Ich möchte so lieben) - Tango Start
- 19 Koletschko (Das Ringlein) - Romanze Start
- 20 Andrjuscha - Foxtrott Start
- 21 Osennij Mirasch (Herbstphantom) - Tango Start
- 22 Aljescha - Foxtrott Start
- 23 Moje Posledneje Tango (Mein letzter Tango) - Tango Start
ProduktinfoIn February 1936 in Budapest, when a man who had committed suicide left behind a farewell letter citing the lyrics of a 3 year old, then little known Hungarian song, a legend was born. And it's certainly no coincidence that one year before another legend had embraced the same song, given it Russian lyrics and recorded it - Pjotr Leschenko, the charismatic singer of tangos and gypsy romances, then well on his way to conquering the whole of Europe from his exile in Bucharest.
On the one hand, the ballad of "Gloomy Sunday" which subsequently threatened to turn into a kind of anthem for those in danger of suicide and which was consequently banned from the airwaves in Hungary, the USA and Great Britain; on the other, the Russian patriot Leschenko, banned from returning to his mother-country because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time (namely in Bessarabia during the Rumanian occupation) and whose musical style was lambasted as decadent and bourgeois by the Soviet cultural authorities - lambasted despite the enormous popularity he enjoyed in Russia where his records were smuggled in, sold and copied illegally.
A lot of speculation has taken place as to what exactly "Szomorú vasárnap" - to give the song its original Hungarian title - owes its impact. The original lyrics by Reszô Seress, who also composed the music, were deeply despairing, a lament to the sins of the humankind, war and violence. The later lyrics by the poet László Jávor talk about the end of a love affair - making the text private and introspective as it were - but are likewise also imbued with a deep despair.
A good case can be made that the impact of the song is not only due to its lyrics. The author of the English version with the title "Gloomy Sunday", which has been sung and recorded by such artists as Billie Holiday, Elvis Costello and Marianne Faithfull, added a third verse in an attempt to alleviate the pessimistic mood - all in vain. Even a purely instrumental version recorded in England to get round the broadcasting ban by the BBC had the same fatal effect as the vocal version - it seemingly held a magical attraction for all those who wanted to put an end to their lives. And if we listen closely, we can understand that, quite apart from all the implications of the lyrics, the musical structure of "Szomorú vasárnap" is in fact the enactment of despair in music. It lacks a refrain to mitigate or dissolve the tension - in some way the song just hangs in the air without the usual harmonies a "well-rounded" ending would give. Its form too terminates in an unresolved manner with a dark question mark. It might be a little exaggerated to establish a direct link between this and the large number of suicides. But what can be said for sure is that many suicides have directly or indirectly evoked "Szomorú vasárnap" or "Gloomy Sunday" - certainly not as the reason or immediate cause of their decision, but perhaps as a means of making their situation more understandable, of giving voice to something that they themselves were incapable of expressing.
And it is equally certain that over the years, this song has lost none of its fascination or power to allure. Innumerable recordings have been made, there's a melancholy film* about the story of its origins, and its historical and contemporary aspects are discussed on an own dedicated web site. Leschenko's version of the song could have no inkling of all this - as can only be expected, his version of the song in Russian draws on the text by László Jávor. In Leschenko's world of gallant men and flirtatious women despair has one cause and one cause alone - the unrequited love of a woman. But even Leschenko, the great master with the unerring feeling for dramatic gestures and grand emotions must have sensed that the song carried a kind of despair deep within it whose causes had little to do with the failure of a love affair - it sings the sorrow of the world and the imperfections of humanity and Leschenko was well acquainted with both of these. Otherwise he wouldn't have sung the song in the first place - and above all he wouldn't have sung it in the way he does.
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