Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition / Night on the Bare Mountain (National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Kuchar) (CD)

Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition / Night on the Bare Mountain (National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Kuchar) (CD)

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Mussorgsky's monumental 1874 work performed with precision and drama by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in 2001.

Mussorgsky's 1874 suite Pictures at an Exhibition, a tribute to the versatile artist Viktor Hartmann, has proveed perhaps the most popular of all the composer's works, both in its original version for piano and in the colourful orchestral version of Ravel presented here. Linked by Promenades for the visitor to the exhibition, Mussorgsky represents in music a varied collection, from the Market of Limages and the Catacombs to the final Great Gate of Kiev. This recording also presents two versions of the orchestral favourite Night on the Bare Mountain, an orchestral witches' sabbath.

Details

Track listing

  1. St. John's Night on Bald Mountain, "A Night on the Bare Mountain" (arr. N. Rimsky - Korsakov)
  2. Sorochintsy Fair: Gopak (Hopak)
  3. Khovanshchina, Act V: Golitsin's Exile (arr. N. Rimsky-Korsakov)
  4. St. John's Night on Bald Mountain, "A Night on the Bare Mountain"
  5. Promenade
  6. I. Gnomus
  7. Promenade
  8. II. ll vecchio castello
  9. Promenade
  10. III. Tuileries
  11. IV. Bydlo
  12. Promenade
  13. V. Ballet of the Chickens in their Shells
  14. VI. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
  15. VII. Limoges - The Market Place
  16. VII. Catacombae
  17. Cum mortius in Lingua morta
  18. IX. The Hut on Fowls' Legs, "Baba Yaga"
  19. X. The Great Gate of Kiev

Review

These brilliant, hard-driving performances bring back (happy) memories of Russian orchestras of the 1960s and a style of playing that has all but disappeared. The performances aren't subtle, but then neither is the music, and my how Theodore Kuchar and Co. deliver the goods! Why don't we hear playing like this anymore in music that practically defines the word "excitement?" The other two short pieces, the Hopak and Golitsin's Exile, simply put the icing on the cake. Don't let the cheap price, the not-terribly-well-known performers, or the brevity of this review prevent you from trying out this really gutsy and very well recorded disc (probably the best sonics from this source thus far). You'll be missing a real treat if you do. - 5/5