Mussorgsky-Stokowski: Pictures at an Exhibition

Mussorgsky-Stokowski: Pictures at an Exhibition

by José Serebrier
     
 

The art of transcription tends to receive less respect than it deserves, and no one did more in the 20th century to earn respect in this field than the conductor Leopold Stokowski. His orchestral arrangements of Bach -- most famously for Disney's Fantasia -- exposed that composer's music to countless new listeners, and hisSee more details below

Overview

The art of transcription tends to receive less respect than it deserves, and no one did more in the 20th century to earn respect in this field than the conductor Leopold Stokowski. His orchestral arrangements of Bach -- most famously for Disney's Fantasia -- exposed that composer's music to countless new listeners, and his versions of works by Modest Mussorgsky were almost equally significant. Stokowski's transcription of Pictures at an Exhibition will likely always fall in the shadow of Maurice Ravel's brilliant orchestration of Mussorgsky's piano score, yet it's a very impressive piece of work, hewing closer to a dark and typically Russian sound. If some of Ravel's piquant details are missed -- the opening trumpet solo, the saxophone in "The Old Castle" -- there are just as many moments where the advantage goes to Stokowski, not least in the powerful strains of "The Great Gate of Kiev," which sounds quite close to the world of Boris Godunov in this version. Speaking of that operatic masterpiece, Stokowski's "symphonic synthesis" of its themes makes for the most gripping listening on this disc; condensing key moments into a commanding 25-minute arch, it conveys both the opera's dramatic majesty and tragedy. Stokowski's Night on Bare Mountain (the version used in Fantasia) gives free rein to suitably creepy orchestral effects, and his Entr'acte from Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina is as somber and moving as one could wish. These transcriptions also appeared recently on another fine disc, conducted by Oliver Knussen, but the survey here by José Serebrier (a Stokowski protégé) with the Bournemouth Symphony easily matches it; and at a budget price, with the bonus additions of two brief Tchaikovsky transcriptions and Stokowski's arrangement of Slavic Christmas melodies, this release clearly has the edge.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Leonard
There have been other recordings of Leopold Stokowski's transcriptions of music of Mussorgsky, later recordings by Matthias Bamert, and, naturally, many recordings by Stokowski himself. But while the Stokowski true believer would not want to part with any of the Maestro's recordings, the neophyte might want to try something a little fresher. And while no one could say a word against Bamert's immensely muscular performances with the BBC Philharmonic, anyone would have to say that these performances by José Serebrier with the Bournemouth Symphony are undeniably better. Part of the reason is that Serebrier was a Stokowski protégé and his performances have the intensity of the true believer. But a larger part of the reason is that Serebrier, while clearly a conductor in the swashbuckling Stokowski mold, is a more concentrated conductor, a more colorful conductor, and, ultimately a more charismatic conductor than Bamert in this repertoire. Serebrier's interpretations are not slavish copies of his master's work, but stand on their own. His "Pictures at an Exhibition" is massively monumental, his "A Night on Bald Mountain" is devilishly infernal, his "Symphonic Synthesis of Boris Godunov" is unerringly dramatic, his "Entr'acte" to Act IV of "Khovanshchina" is unendingly tragic. And in all of them the Bournemouth Symphony plays like the great and powerful orchestra it is, finding the balance between strength and subtlety and all-out attack. The remaining works on the program, Stokowski's tender transcriptions of Tchaikovsky's "Serenade" and "Humoresque" and his own affectionate "Traditional Slavic Christmas Music" are wonderfully apt fillers played with the same degree of energy and enthusiasm. One hopes that this series continues through all the rest of Stokowski's transcriptions. Naxos' sound is physically stunning and easily as good as all but the very best of the full-price alternatives.
Gramophone - Edward Greenfield
[October 2005 CD of the Month] Outstanding performances by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, brilliantly recorded.
Time Out New York - Daniel Felsenfeld
Thrill-a-minute performances that finally do justice to Stoki's transcriptions.... Serebrier's vivid portrayal will no doubt provide the standard by which future recordings are judged.

Read More

Product Details

Release Date:
06/21/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313264520
catalogNumber:
8557645
Rank:
225394

Tracks

  1. Night on Bald Mountain (Noch' na Lïsoy gore), symphonic poem, edited by Stokowski  - Modest Mussorgsky  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  2. Khovanshchina, opera in 5 acts, edited by Rimsky-Korsakov: Act IV. Khovanshchina  - Modest Mussorgsky  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  3. Symphonic Synthesis on "Boris Godunov", for orchestra (after Mussorgsky)  - Leopold Stokowski  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  4. Pictures at an Exhibition (Kartinki s vïstavski), for orchestra, orchestrations other than Ravel's  - Modest Mussorgsky  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  5. Morceaux (2) for piano (or piano & violin), Op. 10: No. 2  - Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  6. Solitude (Again, as before, alone), song for voice & piano, Op. 73/6  - Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  7. Traditional Slavic Christmas Music, for string & brass choirs  - Leopold Stokowski  - José Serebrier  - Benjamin Chai  - Benjamin Chai  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

Read More

Album Credits

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >