“A wonderful piece, but very difficult – only a few will be able to master it …”. Since this pronouncement by Nicolai Rubinstein, who nonetheless premièred it with bravura, the work has unjustly been stuck with the label of “unplayable”. The wild, almost demonic character of this “oriental fantasy” has certainly contributed to this reputation: through the use of Caucasian and Armenian folk idioms Balakirev calls forth a keyboard firework that aroused the admiration even of the Titan Liszt. Our edition provides today’s pianists with a musical text that is not only reliable and accurate, but also clear and well-organised.
- Level of difficulty (Explanation)
- Other titles with this level of difficulty
Like many of his contemporaries, Milij Balakirev (b. 2 January 1837, d. 29 May 1910) took an interest in the folk songs of his native Russia as part of a burgeoning awareness of his nation’s music. On three trips to the “Russian East” he visited the Caucasus and collected melodies transmitted orally by its indigenous populations. It was here, in 1863, that he stumbled … more
About the composer
A Russian composer, pianist, conductor and co-founder of the New Russian School of composers called the “Mighty Handful.” His interest in folk music found expression in his works. In addition, he felt particularly indebted to the musical heritage of Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka. An important musical figure without institutional training, he rejected the academy. His compositions include works for piano, pieces for choir and for orchestra, songs, and chamber music.
|1837||Born in Nizhny Novgorod on January 2. He receives his first musical instruction from his mother.|
|from 1846||Piano lessons in Moscow with Alexandre Dubuque and Karl Eisrich.|
|from 1851||He gives concerts at the home of landowner and patron Alexander Dmitryevich Ulybyshev. He is employed as a choir director.|
|from 1855||He is introduced to musical life in St. Petersburg and makes the acquaintance of Mikhail Glinka and Alexander Serov. A tight-knit circle of accolytes forms around him, including Modest Mussorgsky, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Alexander Borodin.|
|1862–73||He founds the Musical Free School in St. Petersburg, organizing and leading its concerts.|
|1867–69||Chief conductor of the Russian Musical Society.|
|1869||He begins work on the oriental fantasy Islamey, regarded as one of the most technically challenging works in the piano literature.|
|from 1873||Personal crises prompt him to take a multi-year hiatus from music.|
|1881–1908||Director of the Musical Free School.|
|1883||Appointed music director of the Imperial Chapel.|
|1910||Dies in St. Petersburg on May 29.|
About the authors
Die neue, mustergültige Henle-Urtextausgabe bietet erstmals eine präzise Notenvorlage im kritischen Abgleich von Autograph (1869) und den jeweils vom Komponisten revidierten Ausgaben von Rather (1902) und Jurgenson (1909). Der Anhang bringt die verschiedenen Lesarten, einschließlich der Druckfehler, und bietet somit eine verlässliche Neuorientierung für Konzertpianisten und Meisterklassenschüler.
The superiority of the new edition is evident in the clarity of its presentation. The fact that the notes are elegantly spaced over 23 pages as opposed to the squashed and compressed 18 of the old … version says it all. Additionally, Henle provides a highly informative preface, sketching the origins of the folk material and the evolution of the piece itself.
If you never reach a quarter of the metronome marking, I nevertheless urge you to pick up a copy of Henle’s unfussy edition. … The ingenuity of the writing easily matches ‘Scarbo’ … and Henle’s Norbert Gertsch certainly helps us to see much of what is important in this music.
Les pianistes d’aujourd’hui peuvent non seulement se fier à la fidélité de l’édition Henle à l’égard de l’original, mais ils apprécieront aussi la perfection et la clarté d’agencement du texte musical.
Tot aan het einde van zijn leven bleef Balakirev aan het stuk schaven. In de nieuwe Urtext van Henle zijn al deze wijzigingen, varianten en vingerzettingen minutieus verantwoord. Bovendien zijn de door Balakirev opgetekende originele melodieën opgenomen. Wie het aandurft om dit stuk op de lessenaar te zetten, kan zich geen betere uitgave wensen.