The popular Russian melody, “Dark Eyes” has always seemed to me, to be very suited to the violin and some ten years ago I began to sketch out an arrangement for violin and piano. When considering writing a piece for Carmine Lauri I felt that it would be good to extend the arrangement into a set of variations, in the style of an entertaining show piece.
Although the melody is full of what we might consider Russian melancholy, the poem by Grebyonka was in fact set to a waltz by a German composer, Hermann.
After the Violin broods over the melody alone, the piano enters and momentum builds, only to give wayto the 1st variation which is reminiscent of a Viennese Waltz.
The 2nd variation has Spanish rhythmswith alternating time signatures, the 3rd suggests a Latin American feel.
The 4th variation relaxes a little and gently leads to the 5th, marked Allegro vivo. This ends very abruptly and from the silence the solo violin introduces a sustained melody, now in the major, which is the 6th ,and longest, variation.
The 7th Variation returns us to the waltz, now slow and "mysterioso". At first the 9th variation would seem to be unstoppable but it is interrupted by the opening violin melody, now with the piano providing an ambiguous arpeggiated accompaniment.
The 10th variation begins with what is really the most complete statement of the original theme, but soon returns to the bravura of earlier to end the piece.
© Simon Hester 2014
Variations on Dark Eyes
Carmine Lauri- Violin
Simon Hester- Piano
Manoel Theatre Malta 2009