- Pictures at an Exhibition (Kartinki s vïstavski), for orchestra, orchestrated by Ravel
- Khovanshchina, opera in 5 acts, edited by Shostakovich: Prelude
- St. John's Night on the Bare Mountain (Ivanova noch' na Lisoy gore), symphonic poem for orchestra
- Gopak (Hopak), for orchestra, transcribed by Liadov from the opera Sorochintsï Fair
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Valery Gergiev continues to cement his status as the leading conductor of Russian classics with this program of popular works by Mussorgsky. Pictures at an Exhibition, the composer's homage to the artist Victor Hartmann in the well-known orchestral arrangement by Ravel, takes pride of place, and true to form, Gergiev elicits a powerfully dynamic, sharply drawn performance from the Vienna Philharmonic. "Gnomus" is intense and angular, while "Il vecchio castello" is delicately atmospheric. He shapes "Bydlo" into a demonic dance; "Catacombae" is starkly expansive, and "La Cabane sur des pattes de poule" has never sounded so close to Stravinsky, almost brutal in its driving energy. But it's in the concluding "Le grande porte de Kiev" where Gergiev really pulls out all the stops; it's as splendid and thrilling a performance as seems possible, and the Vienna players rise to meet his challenge. The program continues with three shorter works: The Prelude to Kovashchina (orchestrated by Dmitri Shostakovich) gives the Vienna's rich string sound a chance to shine; Rimsky-Korsakov's arrangement of "Night on a Bare Mountain" (made famous by Disney's Fantasia) is as weirdly menacing as ever, and the short, Tchaikovsky-esque "Gopak" (from the opera Sorochintsy Fair) ends the program on an lighter note. The Kirov Orchestra is Gergiev's more usual haunt, so it's a pleasure to hear him joined again with the Vienna Philharmonic. (Their recording of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, released in 1999, won accolades from critics.) But really, wherever Gergiev goes, fireworks are sure to follow.
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