Alexander Paley: Balakirev - Islamey, Oriental Fantasy for Piano

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Islamey - Oriental Fantasy for Piano (1869, rev. 1902)
Pianist: Alexander Paley

This is a highly virtuostic piece for solo piano by Russian composer Mily Balakirev (1837-1910). He was inspired to compose this work while traveling in the Caucasus. Balakirev describes his experience in an 1892 letter:

"The majestic beauty of luxuriant nature there and the beauty of the inhabitants that harmonises with it -- all these things together made a deep impression on me... Since I interested myself in the vocal music there, I made the acquaintance of a Circassian prince, who frequently came to me and played folk tunes on his instrument, that was something like a violin. One of them, called Islamey, a dance-tune, pleased me extraordinarily and with a view to the work I had in mind on Tamara I began to arrange it for the piano. The second theme was communicated to me in Moscow by an Armenian actor, who came from the Crimea and is, as he assured me, well known among the Crimean Tatars."

Balakirev's grave at Tikhvin Cemetery
Balakirev's grave at Tikhvin Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Category:Paintings by Ilya Yefimovich...
Odoevsky-Balakirev-Glinka: Painting by
 Ilya Yefimovich Repin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)