Every now and then, a genius musician is grown. According to Classic.fm, Mozart began composing by age four and had written 10 symphonies by the age of 12. Beethoven was seven when he gave his first performance to a public audience.
Here, the 7-year-old prodigy Anastasiia Tiurina performs the classic Russian folk song “Valenki” with the National Academic Orchestra of Russian Folk Instruments.
She can be seen to the very left of the conductor, sitting in front of the orchestra. She’s already a master of the mandolin-like instrument she holds, which appears to be the triangular Russian balalaika.
The balalaika is of the lute family of instruments, developed in the 18th century from the dombra, a similar, three-stringed instrument with a round body. Both the balalaika and dombra are widely represented in central Asian and Russian culture, according to Britannica.
The conductor readies the orchestra and raises his baton.
The first sounds of the piece are Anastasiia playing solo for a few moments. Then, varied layers of the orchestra trickle in, including some double reeds and string instruments, followed by even more orchestral double reed woodwinds, like the oboe.
This Russian orchestra is comprised of a variety of culturally relevant, period-specific instruments. It can be contrasted with the typical modern Western orchestra, which features different types of woodwind instruments and much more brass.
“Valenki” is a wonderful piece with a bouncing, varying rhythm and lush orchestration. The unique Russian string instruments and woodwinds are primarily featured throughout. About a minute into the performance, an accordion section can be seen tucked behind the oboes. At this point, a solo oboist plays with accompanying strings and a percussionist, soon in tandem with Anastasiia.
In a matter of seconds, the orchestral ornamentation and accompanying instruments are stripped away, giving the child prodigy a short solo, starting with a few plucked tones. She then rapidly hams away at a technically rigorous solo section.
Nothing about her performance is novel, other than the fact that she is seven years old. If one listened to the performance without any visual reference at all, one would be led to believe that she’s a regular, older professional virtuoso. She actually might be much more technically gifted than many of her accompanying orchestral peers – and she’s only seven!
After her intricate solo, the orchestra kicks back in, featuring a much faster, livelier tempo. A short climax occurs with practically every member of the orchestra involved before dissolving back into a softer, Anastasiia solo.
A lot of young wunderkinds, although extremely talented, don’t express the joy and enthusiasm that Anastasiia Tiurina does here. She is clearly genuinely absorbed in her craft, enjoying every moment.
For the remainder of the performance, the featured virutoso and the orchestra play off each other, keeping things somewhat mild, yet exciting. Overall, “Valenki” is a unique, exciting Russian piece, especially to the untrained Western ear.
The orchestra eventually gives an exciting, quick finale in tandem with Anastasiia’s strings. To no surprise, the audience soon lets out an enthusiastic applause.
Anastasiia stands and gives the quickest of bows before trying to exiting the stage to the right. The conductor stops her in her tracks, motioning for her to step forward and give a longer bow so that she can bask in her much-deserved applause.
Overall, this particular performance of “Valenki” was immaculate. The entire orchestra put on a wonderful show, but Anastasiia’s masterful balalaika playing was the clear standout. It’s easy to forget that she’s just a child. She’ll be contributing substantially to the world of music for decades to come – like Mozart, but without a piano. Instead, she prefers the balalaika.
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Source: Анастасия Тюрина