Composed by Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874)
For Flute, Clarinet in Bb, and Piano
Edited by Stephanie Jutt and Alan Kay
Published by International Music Co.
Includes score, flute part, and clarinet part
Composer and clarinetist Ernesto Cavallini was born in 1807 in Milan, Italy. At the age of nine, he became a student of Benedetto Carulli, enrolling at the Milan Conservatory. From 1831-1851, he was solo clarinetist in the orchestra of La Scala, which was led by his brother Eugenio (1806-1881). As a soloist, he became known as Italy's most outstanding clarinetist, performing throughout Italy and also in Vienna, Paris, London, Geneva and Brussels. After resigning from La Scala, he toured more extensively throughout Europe, eventually settling in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1854, where he stayed for 15 years. He was appointed solo clarinetist to the tsar's court and in 1862 was offered a position in the newly opened St. Petersburg Conservatory, where he taught until 1869. In 1869, he returned to Milan and taught at the Conservatory until his death in 1874.
Although Cavallini played on a rather primitive six-key boxwood clarinet, the British virtuoso clarinetist Henry Lazarus described him as the “Paganini of the clarinet.” Having been a part of four Giuseppe Verdi premieres while at La Scala, Cavallini's playing inspired Verdi to write the famous Act III solo in his 1862 opera, La forza del destino; the opera received its premiere in St. Petersburg under the composer's direction.
No doubt his years in St. Petersburg inspired this composition, the Reverie russe. His compositions are firmly seated in a 19th century Romantic virtuoso tradition, with an emphasis on technical brilliance and the bel canto style he would have experienced first hand in the opera pit. The work was intended for himself and the Italian flutist Cesari Ciardi, his colleague at the Conservatory and first flutist of the Imperial Orchestra. A gentle introduction is followed by a simple theme, a set of five variations and a jaunty finale, after which the opening material returns briefly, bringing the piece to its quiet finish.