Balakirev Islamey: 16 Great Performances

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Mily Balakirev (1837-1910)
Islamey - Oriental Fantasy for Piano (1869, rev. 1902)
Mily Balakirev
Mily Balakirev (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Boris Berezovsky plays Islamey. From a 2005 recital in Mexico City.
2. Evgeny Kissin plays Islamey Live in Amsterdam 2002.
3. Ivo Pogorelich, live at Carnegie Hall, May 7th 1990.
4. Ivo Pogorelich plays Islamey live in 2007.
5. Horowitz plays Islamey (rare 1950)
6. Dimitris Sgouros plays Islamey (age 14) in recital in Osaka, 1984
7. Mikhail Pletnev plays Islamey. Live at Carnegie Hall in November 2000
8. Cziffra plays Balakirev Islamey
9. Andrei Gavrilov plays Islamey Fantaisie orientale
10. Simon Barere plays Islamey by Balakirev
11. Olli Mustonen plays Islamey live in recital in 1986, Newport, USA
12. Wen-Yu Shen plays Islamey Live
13. Alexander Paley plays Islamey
14. Shura Cherkassky plays Islamey
Mily Balakirev at the time he taught
Mily Balakirev at the time
he taught "The Five."
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
15. Lang Lang plays Islamey
16. Yefim Bronfman plays Islamey, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, 27 11/2007

This is a highly virtuostic piece for solo piano by Russian composer Mily Balakirev (1837-1910), the mentor of the Mighty Handful. 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."