Byron's collection of poems, Hebrew Melodies
, enjoyed enormous popularity in their day and inspired many artists, writers and composers throughout Europe. Mikhail Lermontov's translation of My soul is dark, is used by Mily Balakirev (1837-1910) in his 1859 setting known as Hebrew Melody
. With its sinuous, oriental-style harmonies, it is a masterpiece by a man who was the leader of the group of nationalist composers known as 'The Mighty Handful'. The virtuoso accompaniment of the second version, as recorded here, imitating the sound of a harp, contrasts with the passionate vocal line.
from notes by Edward Morgan © 2001