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Although Glinka’s great importance lies in the field of opera and singing he bequeathed a number a enchanting symphonic works, which cannot deny their vocal and theatrical heritage.
His Waltz Fantasy in B minor is one these beautiful miniatures. Originally written for piano the musical design is quite dramatic right from the beginning. So it comes as no surprise that Glinka revised it twice: the first new version was arranged for small orchestra, enhancing already the dramatic outline followed by a second one for large orchestra in the year before his death in 1856. This highly elaborated one is on our album and shows the special importance the piece must have had for the composer.
Glinka’s Kamarinskaya, which originally is the name of a Russian folk dance, was composed in 1848 and it is the first orchestral composition based on Russian folk songs. Two themes give the coordinates to the piece: the first one is a bridal song with a slow tune, the second one, name giver „Kamarinskaya“ is a nagriish, a fast and furious dance tune. Glinka here refers to the roots of folk song and the principal of modified repetition, varying the musical ambience by changing orchestral colours, harmonies and contrapuntal arrangements.
On March 6th 1831 Glinka witnessed the premiere of Bellini’s La Sonnambula in Milan and was immediately intrigued by the expressive and artful vocal lines, which constitutive the art of belcanto. And it was the famous Italian publisher Ricordi who encouraged Glinka to compose the Divertimento brillante on themes from Bellini’s Opera La Sonnambula. He chose three major parts from the opera. The vocal parts were constantly assigned to the piano while the strings are taking over the orchestral and the choir parts. The Divertimento ends with a brilliant stretta, which is pure Glinka but written in the style of Bellini. The Grand Sextet is also a result of Glinka’s Italian journey. The musical flavour is belcanto-like, the design of the melodies and the formal structure reveal at any time the influence of the Italian opera.