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Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Night on a Bald Mountain, Prelude to Khovanshchina

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
It is a little surprising that Telarc decided to go with the Vadim Repin portrait of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky for its recording of Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony in his best-known orchestral works. Painted as Mussorgsky lay dying in a St. Petersburg hospital, it captured the composer at his most dissolute and chaotic, but as it remains the most famous image of Mussorgsky among the limited amount of iconography left for him, perhaps its use was a foregone conclusion. It certainly does not reflect the vision of the music that's inside. This is Mussorgsky at its most pristine, cohesive, and well-tailored; a little like the photographic portrait, with ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
It is a little surprising that Telarc decided to go with the Vadim Repin portrait of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky for its recording of Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony in his best-known orchestral works. Painted as Mussorgsky lay dying in a St. Petersburg hospital, it captured the composer at his most dissolute and chaotic, but as it remains the most famous image of Mussorgsky among the limited amount of iconography left for him, perhaps its use was a foregone conclusion. It certainly does not reflect the vision of the music that's inside. This is Mussorgsky at its most pristine, cohesive, and well-tailored; a little like the photographic portrait, with his beard trimmed and waxed moustache turned up at its sides, that Mussorgsky might have preferred as the image we keep of him in our minds. Järvi opts for the standard Rimsky-Korsakov scores of "Night on Bald Mountain" and the prelude "Dawn on the Moscow River" from "Khovantschina," but introduces a little twist in Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures at an Exhibition" in that the original French published edition of 1929 is consulted for correction of errors and specifics on phrasing and dynamics. A whole industry of activity has grown up around Mussorgsky's scores, not to mention Rimsky-Korsakov's and others' alleged meddling with them, resulting in a donnybrook that has raged pro and con among musicologists and performers alike for decades. Nevertheless, amid all of that confusion, no one else thought to go back and review the familiar Ravel score, and there is every reason to. It has been a public domain score, at least in the United States, for decades. Practically every orchestra has a copy filled with markings and changes of various kinds even beyond errors stemming from the original prints themselves. The differences are quite significant; one familiar error is in the saxophone solo in the "Tulieries," which sticks out as a sore thumb in most recordings, simply becomes invisible, yet restores the passage to Ravel's intended transparency. This is but one example offered here; one hesitates to give away the many surprises here, particularly those in "The Old Castle." Although founded by German musicians in a still overwhelmingly German American city, the Cincinnati Symphony delivers a very beautiful "French orchestra" sound here; this owes to some extent from a long association with Erich Kunzel, who was an attentive student of Pierre Monteux, but Järvi has especially refined the French DNA in the orchestra. This really works well for Mussorgsky, as French orchestral tradition and the nineteenth century Russian nationalist school are joined at the hip. Telarc's recording quality is fabulous; timpani rumble ominously, the bass drum pulses rather than sounds, and in the low string passages in "Samuel Goldberg and Schmuyle," you can feel the contact the bows make with their instruments. With the exception of listeners who will not tolerate anything other than warts and all Mussorgsky -- the Repin portrait embodied in the unedited form of his scores -- this recording of Mussorgsky's "Pictures," "Night on Bald Mountain," and "Down on the Moscow River" should prove absolutely satisfactory, not to mention inspiring and emotionally moving, listening. It would be great to see this conductor/orchestra combination let loose on what remains of Mussorgsky's scant orchestral literature.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/23/2008
  • Label: Telarc
  • UPC: 089408070525
  • Catalog Number: 80705
  • Sales rank: 145,093

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Paavo Järvi Primary Artist
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    Posted November 5, 2008

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