- Night on Bald Mountain (Noch' na Lïsoy gore), symphonic poem, edited by Rimsky-Korsakov
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Songs and Dances of Death; Night on Bare Mountainby Mariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra
Fans of Valery Gergiev and his robust interpretations of Russian classics will be enthralled by this hybrid SACD of music by Modest Mussorgsky, a 2015 release on the Mariinsky label. Recorded in direct stream digital and presented in the multichannel format, the performances by the Mariinsky Orchestra have great depth and clear separation of parts. Gergiev takes pains to give Ravel's marvelous orchestration of "Pictures at an Exhibition" the most transparent textures and skillfully uses dynamics and shadings of tone to heighten the timbres, especially of the low woodwinds and brass. In "Songs & Dances of Death," bass Ferruccio Furlanetto sings with remarkable emotional range and a rich and resonant voice, and while the orchestra pulls back to give him center stage, it nonetheless brings across the fine details of Shostakovich's arrangement. The concluding work is Mussorgsky's original version of "Night on Bare Mountain," which is seldom heard yet is arguably more interesting and exciting than any of the other versions available. Gergiev emphasizes the piece's eccentricity and inspires the orchestra to play with bold colors and high energy, so the performance is a brilliant revelation of Mussorgsky's idiosyncratic yet effective orchestration.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsMariinsky (Kirov) Theater Orchestra Primary Artist
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It is not often that I hear a recording of the orchestral version of “Pictures at an Exhibition” that makes me sit back and go “WOW”, but this SACD does just that. The dynamic range that Mr. Gergiev and the Marinsky orchestra explore is stunning and gives great depth to the performance as a whole. This is breathtakingly evident in the “Il vecchio castello” movement (track 4) – the saxophone is breathy and warm, and the mood is captivating. The horn work in track 7, “Bydlo”, is as strong and evocative as the strings and particularly the bass section – glorious. And the “Ballet des poussins dans leurs coques” (track 9) is delightfully done, making this listener grin. Track 13, “Cum mortuis in lingua mortua” is dark and gloomy, and extremely well-defined, with every nuance captured faithfully. And the closing “La grande porte de kiev” is everything you would expect it to be. Start to finish this interpretation is wonderful! The second work on the CD is Mussorgsky’s “Songs and Dances of Death”, orchestrated by Shostakovich. The four songs are sung by Ferruccio Furlanetto (bass), and his voice is well-suited to the material indeed. Particularly gripping is the 2nd song “Serenade”, performed on behalf of “Death the Beau” according to the informative liner notes. The Russian language is rich and powerful throughout the entire work. The last work is Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bare Mountain”, and it is sweeping music originally composed for a play called “The Witches”. Here the liner notes provide interesting background having to do with the subject of the witches, their Sabbath, and the 6 years it took to compose the piece. Mr. Gergiev is just as at home here as he is in the two other works, and the orchestra clearly gives him everything he is asking for and then some. A remarkable performance of this classic Russian work. The sound quality of this CD is amazing, the clarity astonishing, and the warmth and mood of the music ever present. It is obvious that the musicians and Mr. Gergiev were giving everything they had to give during the recording sessions, and we are fortunate that technology used resulted in a SACD of this quality. It is *amazing*. Highly recommended.