Alexander Knaifel (born 1943) is one of the most eminent modern composers. A “Petersburger by nationality”, he was educated at the Special Musical School of the Leningrad Conservatory (1950–1961), the Moscow (1961–1963) and Leningrad (1963–1967) Conservatories. He lists Mstislav Rostropovich, the poet Sergei Vakulenko and the Surozh metropolitan Antonii amongst his teachers.
The tremulous sound coloring of the piece is created by the register, uncommonly high for the melody, and the continuous, single pedal. The transparent-sonorous sound quality is achieved by the softly-disjointed non legato in a pp—fff diapason, the sensitive touch of the fingers, as if interlocking onto each key. The expression of the melody, filled with child-like intonations, is enriched by the almost continuous gentle chime of small metal bells (left-hand part)–which may be a chain of Eastern bells, or of fishing or toy bells, but undoubtedly metal and sonorous high-pitch bells. Their tremor, emerging as if from the trembling resulting from the breaking of the (New Year) fir tree toy, is perpetually maintained, like the light from a burning candle.