I have worked with a goodly number of Russian musicians over the years .... All but one was very focused on a somewhat narrow area of "classical" music, so I can hear a resonance of truth in what you say.
Is it possible that virtually all the Russian musicians you encountered had that focus because you only encountered Russian musicians in a professional performing classical music context?
The few performances of the Pokrovsky Ensemble in New York were delightful experiences for me. They're mainly academics who spend (spent? its' been some years now, but I hope they're still at it) their summers collecting music in the countryside and had a widely varied repertoire of songs, styles and instruments, even a Russian equivalent of what the English call a mummer's play. But switching genres, one of their members could sing and play trumpet so much like Louis Armstrong that if he weren't visible (and Satchmo no longer alive) you might wonder about it being the real thing. He certainly wasn't trying to make it sound like Tchaikovsky.
Then there are the various Russian ensembles (3-6 members) that busk the streets here in Denmark. Many -- but not all -- are conservatory trained, but all play to a high standard, doing a mix of Russian folk and classical, with instruments from standard strings to accordion, mandolin, and balalaika... both treble and contrabass. And one day on a local corner there was a girl playing Bach violin solos on the xylophone. Fantastic! Beautiful! (The music was, too.
) I got talking to her, and learned that 1) she is the daughter of two of the members of the Russian trio who were playing on the next corner, and 2) her main interest is jazz (back home in St. Petersburg she plays with a jazz ensemble), but she found that the public (on the streets in Denmark, at least) doesn't seem to appreciate the jazz and contributes much more when she plays classical.
a lot of narrow-minded people in the world, but there are a lot of others, too. My advice to anyone who hasn't met any is to start searching more widely. They are
there, even if they're not part of your usual crowd.
[Edit: Corrected one typo. I hope there aren't more.]
Edited by JimLucas, 29 November 2005 - 05:39 AM.