Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Mikhail Glinka

Glinka originally wrote this composition for piano in 1839, during the period when he was working on his famous opera Russlan and Ludmilla. Aware of the color and expressive content that lay latent in this small work, he orchestrated the Valse fantaisie in 1845. That score was subsequently lost, but the composer fashioned another orchestral version in 1856. This is the version we know today.

In a sense, it is easy to see why Glinka lavished so much attention on this work. It has a charm in its attractive main theme and middle section, with the music sounding somewhat like a mixture of Chopin and Schubert. The mood is bright and carefree and the melodies direct and colorful. While Glinka wrote little piano music, what he did write, though sometimes derivative, was usually was well-crafted and straightforward. This piece will appeal to those attracted to Chopin's music; Glinka transfers the melodic ideal of Italian opera to the piano in a manner different from, but related to, that of the Franco-Polish master. (Both composers were influenced by the seminal Irish piano composer John Field. Most listeners will probably prefer the piano version of the Valse fantaisie, though the orchestral adaptation features greater color and expressive range.