Sonata for Viola and Piano in d minor
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.
His viola sonata was begun in 1825 but never completed. The manuscript breaks off at the very end, a few measures short of the final bar of the second movement, which is actually two movements in one. He had intended a fourth movement, a rondo polka, and there are sketches extant, but he never got around to it. The final bars of the third movement were completed by the Russian musicologist and scholar V. Borisovsky in 1932. The opening movement, shows the scope of the young Glinka's thinking. Virtually nothing like had been composed in Russia up to this time. The music is by turns lyrical, dramatic and stormy and very romantic with much brilliant writing for both instruments. It has a vocal quality as well. The second movement, is as noted two in one. The first part Larghetto is sedate and song-like while the second part, though not named, is very dramatic.
Certainly, this is a work of historical importance but also it makes a nice and rarely heard choice for the recital hall.