Here you can see me playing few of my favorite pieces. The stories of "Kalinka" and "Ochi Chernie" are the abridged versions of what I usually say about them in my concerts (I like to share with my listeners the history of a piece, the lyrics, if it is a song arrangement, or my personal recollection about the composition; see for details).

Kalinka, a famous Russian song

Kalinka is maybe the most famous and the most recognizable Russian folk melody. Actually, it is not a folksong: it has a definite author, the composer Larionov, who wrote the song in 1860. But it captures the essence of Russian folk music as no other song.The word Kalinka is a name of a bush. I have seen translations as diverse as arrowwood, snowball bush, viburnum and highbush cranberry. That doesn't matter much, though: the name has no bearing on the meaning of the song. Not that the song has much meaning at all! The verses don't complement each other or the refrain. What can be extracted from this collection of incompatible lines is that a young boy is dreaming that a pretty, young maiden will love him.But of course it is not the nonsense of the text, but the beauty of music that made Kalinka so popular. And popular it is! There are countless Russian cafes, souvenir shops, dance groups and singing choirs, named after this song. There is even the dog breed: a small terrier called Kalinka!I play the song in my own arrangement.Russian song Ochi Chernie (Dark Eyes)

The composition I play is little known. The main melody of it, though, is known all over the world: the melody of Russian song Ochi Chernie (Dark Eyes).Dark eyes, burning eyesPassionate and splendid eyesHow I love you, how I fear youVerily, I saw you at a sinister hour.If I hadn't met you, I wouldn't be suffering soI would have lived my life smilingYou have ruined me, dark eyesYou have taken my happiness away forever.This is a Feodor Chaliapin's version of the lyrics by Ukrainian poet Yevhen Hrebinka. The music was arranged in 1884 from the waltz composed by some F. Hermann -- not much is known about him. In some websites he is called a French composer Florian Hermann, in other sources - a Russified German Feodor Hermann.I learned his waltz from a Russian sheet music, where it is called Вальс Воспоминание (Recollection Waltz in my own translation). It may be that the original title is Hommage Valse.

Anyway, whatever the title is and whoever the composer is, the music is beautiful and exciting.

Since the song Ochi Chernie is commonly, albeit incorrectly, believed to be a Gypsy song, I added a bit of Gypsy flourish to it. I hope you will enjoy it!

Czardas, by Vittorio Monti