The ensemble “Mandelstam’s Garden” has numerous members — musicians, poets, translators. Our common idea is: «Everything we do is against war and totalitarianism.» Since any form of civil resistance has been banned in Russia, the ensemble’s concerts take place in small halls behind closed doors and the recordings are distributed unofficially. Our musical instruments include an acoustic guitar, a bass-guitar, drums and one or more mandolins. In the Russian language performances, Alexandra Lastoverova and Olga Tereshchenko are the female voices; Alexey Karakovsky and guest singers are responsible for the men’s songs. The authors of the melodies and part of the lyrics are Alexey Karakovsky and Alexandra Lastoverova; songs by Olga Tereshchenko will also be sung. In addition, all authors of the texts can be counted as members of the ensemble. These are Tatyana Voltskaya, Ksenia Avgust, Inna Kvasivka, Tatyana Druzhinina and others. The ensemble was created on August 4, 2021, by Alexey Karakovsky (vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass) and Alexandra Lastoverova (vocals); soon they were joined by the poet Tatyana Voltskaya. We dedicated our first music album «White Lies» to the victims of the Gulag and the Second World War.
Alexey Karakovsky about the creation of the ensemble “Mandelstam’s Garden”:

During all my life I have been writing songs about the history of my country, which are traditionally performed by the rock band «Incident». In the summer of 2021, when I decided to examine more closely the genres of bardic song, urban romance and folklore, I started playing the mandolin and working together with the musician and poet Alexandra Lastoverova. The first rehearsal took place in the Neskuchny Garden. The ensemble «Mandelstam’s Garden» is named in honor of the poet Ossip Mandelstam; there is also a city garden near the Ossip Mandelstam monument, where we have often held poetry readings. The themes of the album, which we called «White Lies», are the Russian Civil War, the dark times of repressions, the Second World War. To be able to tell other people’s personal stories in my own words, in my own poems, I spent a lot of time at the Museum of Modern History of Russia and the Museum of the History of the Gulag. In addition, we turned the original poems written by prisoners and war survivors collected by the poet Semyon Vilensky into song lyrics. These authors weren’t professional writers, they did their best to rhyme — but they wrote about their personal experiences. This is how songs based on poems by Svetlana Shilina, Maria Terentyeva and Nadezhda Nadezhdina were created; the book by the poet from Rostov-on-Don Viktor Strelkov was given to us by his son. A poem by Vladimir Burich was used as an epigraph; fortunately, the author escaped the repressions, but he was a witness of the epoch. Then Tatyana Voltskaya, a poet from Saint Petersburg whose works about war and repressions are well-known, joined the project. Tatyana managed to solve another important task — to cover the psychological and Christian aspects of our materials. The album contains four songs based on Tatyana’s poems; four more poems are read by the author herself with musical accompaniment. There is also one work which was not composed by any of us — this is a song by Igor Bely dedicated to his great-grandfather Naftul Zaslavsky, who sang in the synagogue.

The album consists of 27 works with a total duration of about an hour. In 2022, «White Lies» was released on CD. Why? Well, because it is important to be able to hold the history of your country in your own hands, to read the names of long-dead people on the CD cover, to look at the peaceful Russian landscapes painted by Anna Karakovskaya, to remember our own past. And never forget.

After the release of the album, in August 2022, the concert band was formed, which successfully performed as part of the Izmailovsky anti-war festival (Maxim Solovyov — bass; Olga Tereshchenko — guitar, vocals; Alexandra Lastoverova — vocals; Alexei Karakovsky — mandolin, vocals). The concept of the ensemble has been significantly expanded: today the main task is to write and perform songs about the events of modern history — using the texts of View.Point authors. In addition, Katarina Mechnikova (Hamburg, Germany) is currently working on the translations of the material into English and German, so that our works can be understood by foreign audiences.

Вадим Демарчук (кахон), Максим Соловьёв (бас), Ольга Терещенко (гитара, вокал), Александра Ластоверова (вокал), Антон Аксюк (вокал), Катарина Мечникова (мандолина, вокал), Алексей Караковский (мандолина, вокал).

In January 2023, Katarina briefly came to Moscow, and the activity of the ensemble increased: three concerts were organized and CD versions of some songs, mostly in German, were recorded. The Moscow singer Anton Aksyuk took over the men’s vocal parts in the Russian language in concerts, and Katarina Mechnikova also performed as a mandolinist and singer.
Alexey Karakovsky:

What was created as an abstract construction, suddenly blossomed and came to life. The first thing done for the ensemble is the new mandolin. At the beginning I played a terrible instrument made at the Leningrad factory. Its only advantage was a colorful design on the wooden body, painted by an unknown artist. A new Portuguese mandolin was bought in Spain for my birthday thanks to the crowdfunding initiative. Then Katarina came to Russia, and after months of online communication, we also met in person. All the problems that arose were solved in one way or another. Did Anton Aksyuk forget his guitar on the train for the first time in his life? Well, then the only proper rehearsal took place without him, but Anton managed to pick up his instrument from the lost and found office. Didn’t we find a place where we can rehearse the German versions of the songs? No problem — Katarina, Olga and I did it in the crypt of the Lutheran Peter and Paul Cathedral. The performances at the “apartment concert” at Dmitry Uryupin’s house, at the “Tochka” and “Art-Izba” art spaces were all totally different. In “Tochka” the audience was huge, but we had very little performance time, in other places it was the opposite. I wouldn’t say that everything was perfect — we always came up with creative solutions and musical experiments directly on stage. According to the listeners, two mandolins combined with bongs by Dima Lavrenyuk created a hypnotic effect.

Currently, the musicians have started preparing the material for the second album (the working title is “Dimmed Headlights”), which will unite poems by Russian and Ukrainian poets on one CD. The basic idea of this work is pacifism, compassion, humanity. CDs in German and English are soon to be released.

«Мы будем счастливы назло» (Татьяна Вольтская – Алексей Караковский)
«Прадед» (Игорь Белый)
«Naftul» (Катарина Мечникова)

Альбом «Белая ложь» (2022)

  1. Родина (Владимир Бурич)
  2. Дева Революция (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  3. Окружение (А. Караковский)
  4. Мы будем счастливы назло (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  5. Кружево (А. Караковский)
  6. Колыбельная (Мария Терентьева – А. Караковский)
  7. Амнистия (А. Караковский)
  8. Снег завесил занавеской тюлевой… (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  9. Искус (Виктор Стрелков – А. Ластоверова)
  10. Наденька (А. Ластоверова)
  11. Конвойный (Надежда Надеждина – А. Ластоверова)
  12. На Секирной горе (А. Ластоверова)
  13. В страну вернётся благодать (А. Караковский)
  14. Прадед (Игорь Белый)
  15. Безымянная могила (Светлана Шилова – А. Ластоверова)
  16. Ещё одно заброшенное поле… (Т. Вольтская – А. Ластоверова)
  17. Поражение (А. Караковский)
  18. Мы идём по бескрайней равнине (А. Караковский)
  19. Некуда податься (А. Караковский)
  20. Господи, если есть у Тебя рай… (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  21. Тебя заклинаю (А. Ластоверова)
  22. Письмо (А. Караковский)
  23. Жму на педали… (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  24. Мы живём на проспектах имени палачей (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  25. Не прощайте (А. Караковский)
  26. Ничего из СССР (Т. Вольтская – А. Караковский)
  27. Мы пойдём дорогами (А. Ластоверова)

Алексей Караковский – вокал, гитара, бас, мандолина; Александра Ластоверова – вокал, декламация (1); Татьяна Вольтская – декламация (8, 16, 20, 23); Янис Сурвило – звук, запись; Анна Караковская – живопись. Записано с августа 2021 года по май 2022 года.