Stephen Coates, lead singer for the British band the Real Tuesday Weld, first heard the music of Russian composer Mikael Tariverdiev while sitting in a Moscow cafe. When he asked a waitress what was playing she described it as “something from the old times,” which can mean just about anything. After that initial encounter with his music, Coates discovered that Mikael Tariverdiev was a star composer in the realm of Soviet cinema was close to an unknown everywhere else.
Mikael Tariverdiev composed music for the 1960s Soviet hit Goodbye, Boys! and hundreds more film and TV scores, but he is hardly known outside of Russia and movie-buff circles – this lavish three-disc set is the first anthology ever released in the west. The music is impossibly wistful and full of pastiche (chanson, big band, Piazzolla), but something about it gets under the skin. Seagulls and tinkly pianos segue to forlorn wordless melodies and shuffling rhythm sections.
Had Washington and Moscow been on better terms during the 20th century, Mikael Tariverdiev would be a household name here — at least among film buffs and music nerds. But since mutually assured destruction tends to preclude mutual admiration, only in 2015 does one of Russia’s most revered film composers get his stateside due. “Film Music,” available on three LPs or 3 CDs from Earth Recordings, marks the first major retrospective of Tariverdiev’s work on this side of the old Iron Curtain, and provides a sublime, succinct overview of the composer’s sprawling catalog.
Mikael Tariverdiev — Film Music (Earth Recordings)It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the name Mikael Tariverdiev fails to ring any bells. Though commonly known in Russia, the composer’s most famous musical contributions have tended to fall just beyond the scope of Western audiences, settling in a space strictly reserved for Soviet cinephiles.Thanks to the intrepid curiosity of The Real Tuesday Weld’s Stephen Coates, however, Tariverdiev has now been given a proper introduction to unfamiliar audiences. This three-disc/three-LP set does the business with a thorough examination of the Georgia-born, ethnic Armenian’s talents.The appropriately titled Film Music starts with Coates at a Moscow café in the winter of 2011.