Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Mily Balakirev

Many examples of Russian music were inspired by Russia's nineteenth century conquest of Caucasian territories between the Black and Caspian Seas and the conquest of Turkic kingdoms between the states which are now known as Iran and Afghanistan. This resulted in a rise of interest in all forms of arts and literature of these newly incorporated regions, and these people's musics were quickly imitated in Russian concert music. Mily Balakirev's 1862 work Islamey is supreme among piano works with such a genesis. It is a large-scale fantasy incorporating three themes from Islamic regions of the Caucasus area, decked out with rich harmonies and developed into one of the most flashy virtuoso pieces for the instrument. In 1909, one year before Balakirev's death, the Italian Alfredo Casella introduced his orchestration of the piece, which is suitably dazzling and colorful. The two versions are a little off the beaten track of the standard repertoire, yet they are popular when played because of their color and great vigor.