Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition for Orchestra & Solo Piano

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition for Orchestra & Solo Piano
Composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
Artist Gewandhausorchester Leizig
Igor Markevitch conductor
Alexander Warenberg piano
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 94931
EAN code 5028421949314
Release November 2014

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About this release

The drunken sot who glares out at us from Ilya Repin’s celebrated portrait looks more like a tramp than a composer, and Mussorgsky’s music has a similarly uncompromising expressive power, music that seems to work despite rather than
because of itself. Pianists have wrestled with the unpianistic corners of his most famous work since he composed it in 1874 in memory of his friend, the painter Viktor Hartmann, who had died the previous year. 
Mussorgsky portrayed some of Hartmann's pictures in music when they were displayed at an exhibition in Saint Petersburg. The cycle of ten individual paintings is linked by the famous ‘promenade’, symbolizing the viewer of the pictures wandering through the exhibition. Hartmann’s bold and puzzling vignettes find their perfect analogue in Mussorgsky’s pianistic reimagining, but fellow composers could hardly leave the orchestral potential of this
often‐awkward music alone. Ravel wasn’t the first to mix his orchestral palette with Mussorgsky’s colours, but his version has justly stood the test of time, and stands alone for its sensitivity to the pungent, folkloristic flavour of the original. 
Here is a rare and useful opportunity to compare the two versions side by side, completed by more music by Mussorgsky both wellknown (Night on Bare Mountain) and perhaps less familiar (assorted miniatures that make up the rest of the composer’s slender output for piano). The composer and conductor Igor Markevitch was a celebrated interpreter of Pictures, and this is his third recording.
Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” is one of the most famous and most frequently performed romantic piano cycles of the entire repertoire. It contains colourful, highly original and gripping musical depictions of a series of painting by Mussorgsky’s friend Hartmann: the menacing and evil Gnomus, the mysterious Old Castle, the frolicsome chicks just out of the egg, quarrelling children, the busy marketplace full of chattering women, and then moving into more sinister regions of the Catacomb (“with the Dead in the language of the Dead”), the brutal force and terror
of the witch Baba Yaga, culminating in the glorious Great Gate of Kiev.  This work is so rich and “picturesque” , that it is hard to resist to make an orchestral arrangement of it, and several composers wrote their own orchestration, the most famous that by Maurice Ravel (a master orchestrator). Nevertheless the piano score leaves ample opportunity to
trigger the creativity of the pianist, and the interpretation by Russian pianist Alexander Warenberg is one of great imagination and authority. • This release offers both the original piano version and the Ravel orchestration, filled up with the orchestral “A Night on Bare Mountain” and the more modest, but no less impressive piano cycle by Tchaikovsky: The Seasons.
Other information:
“Markevitch has succeeded in bringing out the purely Russian nature of the score while most of the other
conductors seem to be unduly influenced by Ravel’s orchestration” (Gramophone). 

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 1
  2. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 1, Gnomus
  3. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 2
  4. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 2, Il vecchio castello
  5. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 3
  6. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 3, Tuileries
  7. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 4, Bydlo
  8. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 4
  9. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 5, Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
  10. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 6, Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
  11. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 7, Limoges. The Market
  12. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 8, Catacombae. Sepulcrum romanum – Con mortuis in lingua mortua
  13. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 9, The Hut on Fowl’s Legs
  14. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 10, The Great Gate of Kiev
  15. Night on Bare Mountain

Disk 2

  1. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 1 - No. 1, Gnomus
  2. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 2 - No. 2, Il vecchio castello
  3. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 3 - No. 3, Tuileries
  4. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 4, Bydlo
  5. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 4 - No. 5, Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks
  6. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 6, Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
  7. Pictures at an Exhibition: Promenade 5 - No. 7, Limoges. The Market
  8. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 8, Catacombae. Sepulcrum romanum - Con mortuis in lingua mortua
  9. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 9, The Hut on Fowl’s Legs
  10. Pictures at an Exhibition: No. 10, The Great Gate of Kiev
  11. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 1, January. By the Fireside
  12. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 2, February. Shrovetide Festival
  13. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 3, March. Song of the Lark
  14. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 4, April. Snowdrop
  15. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 5, May. White Nights
  16. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 6, June. Barcarolle
  17. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 7, July. Song of the Reaper
  18. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 8, August. Harvest
  19. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 9, September. The Hunt
  20. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 10, October. Autumn Song
  21. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 11, November. Troika
  22. The Seasons, Op. 37a: No. 12, December. Yuletide