Nikolai Timofeyevich Gres

1920 - 2004 in Simferopol
Picture of INikolai Timofeyevich Gres Picture of Nikolai Timofeyevich Gres
During World War II, Gres sustained an injury resulting in a brain contusion. From 1946, Gres was a soloist of the Black Sea Fleet Ensemble. From 1955 to 1963 (1950-1960 according to Leonid Kharitonov), he was a soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre, and his debut with the Bolshoi was 11 February 1956 in Moscow.

He then joined the Alexandrov Ensemble until 1973 (1964-1965 according to Kharitonov). After leaving the Ensemble, he worked briefly in Moscow teaching automobile engineering, then moved to Simferopol in the Ukraine, where he became an administrator in the Simferopol Philharmonic Society.

In his last years, Gres suffered poor health and died suddenly in hospital at Simferopol. Some newspaper and magazine articles about Gres are listed at Slovari Yandex. In 2001 in the Crimea a biography of Gres was published under the title The whole life with a song (Vsyo Zhizn-S Pyesnyeï), by I.Turchin.

With the Alexandrov Ensemble he recorded I was going back from Berlin (music: I. Dunaevsky; lyrics: L. Oshanin) (1966), The Birch Tree (1965), Truth of the Century (1970), The River Flows (1963), French Marching Song (Pokhodnaya) lyrics by E.Mugel (1963), My Friends and an unknown song duet with A.S. Sibirtsev, The Grey Cuckoo (1965), Obelisks (Obyelisky) (music: Smolsky; lyrics: Yasen) (1966), the aria (Pyesnya pro Golovu)(1967), I Have Travelled the Whole Universe (1969), the role of Sobinin in Ivan Susanin.

Comments on Gres singing The birch tree
Gres sings The Birch Tree on the music video Soviet Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble This is a late medieval composition about a man sitting under a birch tree, whittling and thinking of women. It is usually categorised as a folk song as the name of the composer has been lost. However it is clearly a professional composition of a quality comparative to those of medieval Northern European composers of troubadour songs, such as Dufay and Binchois. This performance is part of the history of the early music revival movement. In the 19th century, rediscovered early music, along with folk music, was usually arranged to be performed in the grand orchestral or Italian operatic style. However, such music had always survived in church music, in one form or another, and people were used to hearing it performed in the style of traditional European church choirs: no vibrato; pure and clear tone; adjusting the voice production to the acoustics of the building. In church music, the building was always the secondary soundbox for the vocal instrument (the nasal cavity being the first). From the 1950s, early music performance reverted to this ecclesiastical style of singing. So the Alexandrov Ensemble performance of ca.1963 was very modern for its time. Gres sings like a church choir baritone, with the same appearance of spiritual joy as any oratorio soloist. His voice is responding to a building-soundbox too; in this case a recording studio. The Russian practice of the time was to film outdoors and then dub the sound later. Studio dubbing tends to appear artificial today, but on this occasion it is advantageous, as the church choral style does need a building-soundbox. From the 1970s, some early music singers, such as the Martin Best Ensemble, started to reflect what may have been the contemporary late medieval performance-style of troubadour songs: that is, the Arab singing style which can still be heard in Islamic sung prayer. Hence Gres' performance now sounds a little dated, but remains nonetheless one of the finest recorded performances of this song.

Украденный Игором
Nikolai Timofeyevich Gres sings The birch tree
In RA Format

Nikolai Timofeyevich Gres sings I was going back from Berlin
In RA Format

Nikolai Timofeyevich Gres sings Zhizn za tsarja (A Life for the Tsar): Miliya dyety
with Ivan Petrov, Vera Firsova, and Valentina Klepatskaya
In RA Format
I wish to thank Robert Schlesinger for the recording (Zhizn za tsarja) .

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