A Russian classical pianist and mezzo soprano who left Moscow to live on a beef farm in Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath, has recorded a special version of one of her favourite seasonal hymns, ‘Silent Night’.

Speaking about the single, Larissa – who has made a name for herself on the Irish country music scene – said that for her, it only really feels like Christmas when she gets a chance to sing ‘Silent Night.’

“I think for most people, hearing or singing ‘Silent Night’ is as much a part of it being Christmas as putting up a tree, or building snowmen, or writing letters to Santa,” she said.

“It’s a song that feels like it’s been around forever, and feels like it belongs to the entire world.

“I remember as a child myself, how enchanting and peaceful it always was to hear this Christmas carol. I’ve always wanted to record it some day, and share my version of it with fans and anyone else who might come to hear it and hopefully like it.

“Written as a Christmas carol by Franz Gruber in 1818, to lyrics byJoseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg in Austria, the most famous rendition of ‘Silent Night’, and perhaps the definitive one, belongs to the American crooner and film star Bing Crosby,” Larissa continued.

“His 1935 version – at last count – had amassed a whopping 10 million sales as a single.”

A differnt type of Silent Night

While Bing’s achievement has stood the test of time, Larissa has added her personal stamp to the hymn that gained world heritage list recognition from UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 2011.

What always proves to be one of the most popular songs in her setlist is her beguiling dual language offering of ‘Danny Boy’, singing the old Irish classic in both English and her native Russian. That’s a treatment she’s now applied to ‘Silent Night’.

“People have always loved hearing ‘Danny Boy’ performed in both English and Russian. I think it adds another dimension to the song, and to its beauty,” Larissa said.

“Even when you might not understand the words, you can still really feel what the song is about through the music.

“It seemed to me that ‘Silent Night’ also shares that same sense of magic. It will find its way to your heart all by itself, all you have to do is listen. More music, and more listening, that’s what we all need a little more of.” 

Produced by Glen Flynn, the idea for Larissa to finally go ahead and take her version of ‘Silent Night’ into the recording studio was sparked by Hot Country TV founder and host, Hugh O’ Brien.

The Cork man suggested it to Larissa for last year’s Hot Country Christmas concert. Having heard and seen peoples’ reactions to Larissa’s version of ‘Danny Boy’, Hugh encouraged her to follow the same path with ‘Silent Night’, something for which Larissa is grateful.

“Hugh has always been a great supporter of my music since I came to Ireland. He is a great man for ideas, and ways to put a little twist on things,” she said. 

It’s a very busy time of year for Larissa and her husband, Christy. The couple met when Christy visited Russia in 2001.

“We just finished buying our new stock at the end of November. We were delighted that Christy could go back to the marts. He didn’t like to do it online at all,” said Larissa, who has thrown herself into Irish farming and community life over the years.

“I do all the computer work for the farm. I’m getting all the paperwork ready now for the annual Bord Bia quality assurance inspection. The cattle are all in the sheds now, snug and cosy for the winter.

“We are using our own prime quality silage for feeding, with the addition of grain feed. We are also very busy in the butcher shop, getting ready for Christmas.”

Larissa Tormey’s version of ‘Silent Night’, in both English and Russian, is available for request nationwide and to fans via all digital platforms.