Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on Bald Mountai CD
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Paavo Järvi continues his series of Russian recordings with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with a disc entirely devoted to works by Mussorgsky.
Pictures at an Exhibition, originally composed for piano, is heard here in the orchestration by Ravel. Mussorgsy wrote pictures as a tribute to his friend, artist and architect Viktor Hartmann. The familiar Promenade theme links Mussorgsky's imaginary tour of Hartmann's exhibition.
Rimsky-Korsakov, who felt that Night on Bald Mountain had many marvellous effects, tried to resurrect it after his friend died. He smoothed out many of the irregularities and improved the orchestration, most likely working from the final version of the piece.
The Prelude to Mussorgsky's ill-fated opera Khovanschchina is titled Dawn on the Moskva River. Mussorgsky composed much of the music for the first four acts, but orchestrated only a small amount of it. The task of orchestrating and completing the opera fell to his friend Rimsky-Korsakov. The Prelude sets the scene for Act I in the Red Square in Moscow, and uses a theme of distinctly Russian folk character, which undergoes a series of melodic variations.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Paavo Jarvi (conductor)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This CD (51 min.) is an all-Mussorgsky album. It starts off with a great appetizer "Night on Bald Mountain", which will immediately appeal to you and sound familiar (from the Walt Disney movie Fantasia). It then is followed by the main course, "Pictures at an Exhibition", one of the most popular classical pieces ever, and Maestro Jarvi brings it with great skill and brings out the best in the orchestra. Check out the subtle yet warm "The Old Castle", the highlight for me on the album, with a tremendous saxophone solo. But other "portraits" like "Bydlo", "The Marketplace of Limoges" and the finale, "The Great Gate of Kiev" are also standouts. The final piece of the album, think of it as the dessert, is the short "Down on the Moscow River", a beautiful pensive tune.
As usual, courtesy the folks at Telearc, the recording/audio quality of this CD is nothing short of spectacular. Maestro Jarvi and the CSO went on a highly successful tour of Europe earlier this year (I had the good fortune of catching them on that tour in Amsterdam and Paris). Under the guidance of Maestro Jarvi, the CSO continues to shine, and this new album is ample proof of that. Meanwhile, this album is highly recommended!