Sarah Brightman - How fare this spot
(aka How fair this place)


Music: Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943)
Lyrics: "G. Galina" = Glafira Adol'fovna Galina (1870-1942)

From: La Luna (2000)
and from: La Luna: non-European version (2000) and from: Amalfi: Sarah Brightman love songs (2010).

Further down you can find:
   -   the translation into English
   -   remarks on the title of the song
   -   the pronunciation of the Russian lyrics

Thanks to Christian Wallenborg for informing me that one G. Galina wrote the lyrics (which is not mentioned in the CD-booklet) and that the number of the work is: Op. 21, no. 7.

The librettist "G. Galina" is mentioned in the "Dictionary of Russian Women Writters - Page 191". A nice version of the song with still image and Russian/English lyrics is here on YouTube.

By the way, this is how Sarah's name is spelled in Cyrillic:

[Sarah's name in Cyrillic]

Source of the lyrics: the CD-booklet, converted via TeX into the above inlined image, including the fact that Sarah repeats the last line. In the booklet of the Europen version the words are printed with hyphens between the syllables, but there seems to be no good reason to do that, so I have omitted the hyphens above. In the booklet of the non-European version these hyphens are converted into spaces, which is obviously absolutely wrong!!
The lyrics as scanned from the European version booklet look like this:

[lyrics in booklet] JPEG version of the lyrics (27.1 kb)


Translation into English

The CD-booklet of the European version of La Luna does not give a translation, but with my limited knowledge of Russian and a good Russian-English dictionary I had a go at it myself. And thanks to Yura Spiridonov the translation is now complete and better:

It is beautiful here

It is beautiful here ...
Look, in the distance
The river sparkles like fire,
The meadows stretch out like a coloured carpet,
The clouds are growing white.

There are no people here ...
There is just silence here ...
Only God and I are here.
Flowers, and an old pine tree,
And you, my daydream!

And you, my daydream!

The CD-booklet of the non-European version of La Luna give the following translation (thanks to Loo Jiaming for sending me this).
That translation is a little different from the one I came up, but not too different. Personally I think the above translation is more in agreement with the original, and I do not like the words "the soul of my dream" very much, and so stick to my translation. What I did adapt there, though, is "stretch out" in the fourth line: I had "are lying", but that sounds not so nice, even though it is more correct.

It's so nice here ...

It's so nice here ...
Look, over there in the distance
A river is sparkling with fire,
Meadows stretch out like a multicolored carpet,
And clouds are white.
There are no people here ...
There is silence ...
There is only God and I.
There are flowers and an old pine,
And you, the soul of my dream!


About the title of the song

Actually, the title in Russian in its simplest translation is "Here good", or "Here it is good". But that sounds too plain to me, so I use "It is beautiful here".

The English title "How fare this spot" used on the European release of the CD was a mystery to me, I mean the use of the word "fare" in it: "fare" means the price for a trip by bus and such, or "to get on, to succeed; to experience treatment in a stated way" [Longman's Dictionary of Contemporary English, 1987] and there is no indication that "fare" is an old or poetic spelling of "fair", which would have made sense to me.

Geoffrey Kidd explained the meaning of "fare" in the English title when he wrote:
"Fare" as "to get on" is also used to refer to a journey. We say "Fare you well" or "Farewell" as a wish for a good journey. I've seen "How fare you, stranger?" in a novel, as a way of asking where the addressed party is going and how the journey has been.
In this case, "How fare this spot" (Note, should be "How fares this spot" (present tense of "fare") is asking "How are things here?" or "How are things going here?" It's a very poetic way of asking the question. The *long* translation "How is this place's journey through time going?" wouldn't work nearly as well.
That explains "fare" in the English title: it is has nothing to do with "fair". But this makes the English title as a whole a strange translation of the original Russian.
All in all I think the title as printed on the CD-cover and in the CD-booklet is simply a printing error and that it ought to have been How fair this spot.
This idea is strengthened by the fact that on the non-European version of La Luna the song is called How fair this place -- also replacing "spot" by a better word.


About the pronunciation of the Russian lyrics

The Cyrillic alphabet of Russian has more letters than the Roman alphabet of English, Dutch, French, etc., and several Russian letters have a somewhat special pronunciation. This makes transcribing the pronunciation of the words a bit complicated, but I will have an go at it here, using a semi-phonetic spelling; and I have placed accents on the stresses syllables.

The following points should be kept in mind:
   -   The 'i' is pronounced as the 'y' in the English word 'happy'.
   -   The 'j' is pronounced as the 'y' in the English word 'yet'.
   -   The 'u' is pronounced as the 'u' in the English word 'put'.
   -   The 'kh' indicates the 'ch'-sound of the Scottich word 'loch', as is often done when transcriping Russian into English-Roman letters (the official phonetic transcription of the is 'x', but using that here might lead to confusions).
   -   The 'g' is pronounced as the 'g' of the English word 'good'.
   -   The 'ch' and 'sh' are pronounced as in 'cheese' and 'ship', respectively.
   -   The Russian letter 'e' is pronounced as 'je', that is: as the 'ye' of the English 'yet', when it is at the beginning of a word or after a vowel; when it follows a consonant, the 'j' of 'je' is pronounced only slightly. The same counts for the "mirrored-R", standing for 'ja', and the 'I-O'-like character, standing for 'ju'. To help the reader, I have added the 'j' in all cases below.
   -   In Russian the letter 'o' is pronounced only as 'o' (as in the English 'pot') when it is in a stressed syllable; else it is pronounced as a short 'a' sound; in the latter case an 'a' is used below.
   -   The 'b'-like character following some Russian consonants means that that consonant becomes "soft", as if followed by the start of the 'j'-sound (but without that sound) -- it is a bit difficult to describe this. In these instances, an apostrophe follows the consonant.
   -   The 'bI'-like character in Russian is a kind of 'i'-sound, that is: between the 'e' of the English 'he' and the 'u' of 'but'. Phonetically it is often written as a upside-down-v; below I use the more commen transcription 'y'.

And this is the result:

Zdjes' kharashó ...
Vzgljáni, vdalí
Agnjém garit rjeká,
Tsvjetným kavróm luga ljegli,
Bjeljéjut ablaká.

Zdjes' njet ljudjéj ...
Zdjes' tishiná ...
Zdjes' tól'ka Bog da ja.
Tsvjetý, da stáraja sasná,
Da ty, mjechtá majá!
Da ty, mjechtá majá!

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created: 30 April 2000
last modified: 11 June 2018