This is a fine Exhibition. From the very first Promenade, the brass has greater clarity, the tempo is a bit faster, and one can sense there is something special afoot. In "Gnomus", "Il vechhio castello", "Tuileries" and "Bydio", the sound is so low and moving, so earthy, I am reminded of Stravinski's "The Rite of Spring".
As "Bydio" goes from mezzo forte to fortissimo, clarity isn't lost; the recording is faithful to each instrument, percussion, brass, strings.
Gergiev is able to bring emotion out in each piece, while not being overly histrionic or clowning. "Ballet des poussins dans leurs coques" is lightly pleasant next to the stately mournful "Goldberg and Schmuyle", for example. The chef d'oeuvre, "The Great Gates of Kiev", shows an incredible range of timbre, something Gergiev excels at, with the booming fortissimos at the outset fading to pianissimos and growing again in the refrain to fortissimos. One can certainly envision oneself admiring the painting from bottom to top, sensing oneself as a tiny human being next to this awesome manmade wonder.
"Khovanschina" is a proud part of Gergiev's repertoire, and he clearly enjoys presenting the lovely prelude here. Vienna, as usual, gives him what he wants.
"Night on Bare Mountain" evokes a cold stormy night in a mountain forest. Effectively. Wear your parka.
"Gopak" is sprite and merry. A wonderful dance tune; Gergiev and Vienna do it justice.
Gergiev once mentioned how honored he was to have been asked to be a guest conductor for the Vienna Philharmonic, because the musicians in that orchestra choose their guest conductors. They seem to have chosen well in this case, and for Mossourgsky, it seems a good fit.