Mikhail Glinka

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Grand Septet in E flat Major

For 2 Violins, Cello, Bass, Oboe, Horn & Bassoon

The manuscript to Mikhail Glinka's Septet composed in 1823 lay moldering away in the dusty archives of the Russian State Library until the centenary of the composer's death, when the well-known Russian composer Vissarion Shebalin produced a score from which a set of parts were created and published some years later. Like much of his early music, the Septet was written for a specific occasion of home music making on his parents country estate in the autumn of 1823. In later life, Glinka, like many other composers, attached little importance to the works of his youth, including this Septet, which no doubt explains why he did not take the trouble to publish it. However, the fact remains that it is one of the few works for septet in which the oboe takes a part, rather than the clarinet. And it is perhaps the only Russian septet from the first part of the 19th century. The work opens with a solemn Andante maestoso introduction. It immediately conjures up the era of the Vienna classics. The music of Haydn and Mozart and their contemporaries was just becoming known in Russian chamber music circles at that time and perhaps Glinka was familiar with the septets of Friedrich Witt or Conradin Kreutzer or Beethovenís Op.20 Septet in the same key. The main part of the first movement, Allegro moderato, could well have been written by one of those Viennese composers although it has some chromaticism that one does not find in their works. The second movement, Adagio non tanto, is a set of variations based on a Russian folk melody. Next comes an elegant Mozartean Menuetto with telling use of pizzicato in the strings as an accompaniment. The toe tapping finale, Rondo, allegro, is a lively affair full of appealing melodies.


Mikhail Glinka (1804-57) is commonly regarded as the founder of Russian nationalism in music. His influence on composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin and Mussorgsky was considerable. As a child, he had some lessons from the famous Irish virtuoso pianist John Field who was living in Petersburg, but his association with music remained purely amateur, until visits to Europe which began in 1830. In both Italy and Germany, he was able to formally study and improve his compositional technique. His music offered a synthesis of Western operatic form with Russian melody, while his instrumental music was a combination of the traditional and the exotic.


The manuscript to the last part to the final movement of the Septet was either lost or never finished, but it was easy for Shebalin to complete what was missing as it had been written out virtually to the recapitulation. Because an oboe rather than a clarinet is called for, Treue Kirschental, one of our senior editors, has created a clarinet part to be used in lieu of the Oboe and also viola part in lieu of Violin II so that the work can be played on the same evening with the septets of Beethoven, Adolf Blanc (click here for link), Franz Berwald (click here for link), Conradin Kreutzer (Click here for link) all of which are for Violin, Viola, Cello Bass, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon and available from us.


(A) Original Version for Oboe, Horn, Bassoon, 2 Violins, Cello & Bass---Parts Only $44.95
(B) Original Version---Parts & Score $49.95
(C) "Standard" Version for Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon, Violin, Viola, Cello & Bass---Parts Only $44.95
(D) "Standard" Version---Parts & Score $49.95
(E) All 9 Parts (No Score) $54.95
(F) All 9 Parts with Score $59.95



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