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Pictures At An Exhibition/Bori

1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Feb. 10 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Group
  • ASIN: B0000YWFMM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #190,665 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. I. Promenade: Allegro Giusto Nel Modo Russo
2. II. Gnomus: Allegro Vivo
3. III. Promenade: Un Poco Largo
4. IV. The Old Castle: Andante Molto Cantabile E Con Dolore
5. V. Bydlo: Sempre Moderato, Pesante
6. VI. Promenade: Tranquillo
7. VII. Ballet Of The Unhatched Chicks: Allegretto Scherzando
8. VIII. Samuel Goldenberg And Schmuyle: Andante - Grave - Energico - Pomposo
9. IX. Catacombae: Sepulcrum Romanum: Largo
10. Con Mortuis In Lingua Mortua: Andante Non Troppo, Con Lamento
11. X. The Hut On Chicken's Legs: Allegro Feroce
12. XI. The Great Gate Of Kiev: Maestoso
13. I. Outside The Novodievichi Monastery - The Poeple Ask Boris For Protection - Pilgrims Are Heard Singing In The Distance - They Come Closer And Enter The Monastery
14. II. Coronation Of Boris
15. III. Monks Chanting In The Monastery Of Choudov
16. IV. Siege Of Kazan
17. V. Outside The Church Of Saint Basil - The Idiot Foretells The Fate Of Russia - The Starving Crowd Asks Boris For Bread
18. VI. Death Of Boris
19. Entr'acte
20. Witches Sabbath

Product Description

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

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Format: Audio CD
For many years critics tended to turn up their noses at Stokowski's various transcriptions but audiences have always felt differently. Stokowski's showmanship blinded many as to how good a musician he was. Like Shostakovich Stokowski viewed Mussorgsky as the most imaginative and innovative of the late 19 Century Russian composers. We know Mussorgsky mostly through Rimsky-Korsakov's reorchestrations or Ravel's transcription of Pictures. What Stokowski did in his transcriptions and orchestrations was to try and get closer to Mussorgsky's style. Many forget that in the 1920's he was already performing "Boris
Godunov" in essentially the orignal version decades before anyone else.
In making his "synthesis" of Godunov he worked from the Mussorgsky original and not the Rimsky-Korsakov. The raw power of the score and its essential Russian flavor are fully brought out in Stokowski's arrangement. Stokowski decided to do his orchestration of "Pictures At An Exhibition" because he felt Ravel's was too French and he wanted a more Russian sound. He certainly got that. He also eliminated Tuileris and The Market-Place At Limoges again because he felt they were too French and not Russian. There might possibly be another reason. At the time these orchestrations were made in the 1920's some scholars felt (wrongly it turns out) that those 2 movements had been composed by Rimsky-Korsalov. The Prelude to Act IV of
"Khovanschina" comes off as a grim dark drama while "The Night On Bare Mountain" is a colorful romp.
One might find the association of composer/conductor Oliver Knussen with Stokowski to be odd but not so. In his youth Stokowski was a close family friend and he attended many of his rehearsals.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The disc will either convert you or send you packing Nov. 13 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on
This disc of Stokowski's orchestral transcriptions of several Mussorgsky works will either convert you or send you packing.

Stokowski made his version of Pictures at an Exhibition in 1939, more than a decade and a half after Ravel did his familiar reworking. My first and lasting impression of Stokowski's version was one of greater fluency, greater poetry, and greater romanticism than the Ravel orchestration. Stokowski utilizes a lot more lush strings, which leads to much of this feeling. However, on most recordings it's hard to tell how much of this effect is the result of Stokowski's orchestration, or, in the case of this recording, the result of the Cleveland Orchestra and Maestro Oliver Knussen.

Anyway, the combination of Stokowski, the Cleveland players, Maestro Knussen, and the DG engineers provides us with an ultrasmooth, ultrasophisticated Pictures, much different from the Ravel arrangements I've gotten used to from the likes of Reiner (RCA), Muti (EMI), Maazel (Telarc), and Ansermet (Decca). In the process of refining the score, Stokowski and company render it less volatile, less explosive, and, well, less colorful. In fact, much of the color seems washed out of the work compared to the aforementioned renditions. However, the listener might find "The Hut on Fowl's Legs" fascinating for its herky-jerky dynamism, and certainly "The Great Gate of Kiev" comes across with a splendid grandeur.

More interesting for me was the shorter Entr'acte to Khovanshchina, which is direct, to the point, and incisive. Maybe it's too short, though, for its own good. Knussen handles the other works, Night on Bare Mountain and the Boris Godunov Symphonic Synthesis quite well, too, although I doubt many potential buyers are looking just for these things.

I also wonder how much the DG engineers are responsible for the music's smoothness, to the extent of having little apparent bite. The sound is so polished and comfortable and so multi-miked, one is in danger of calling it mood music. Yet the sound does not lack a deep bass or a strong dynamic impact. Curious. I think some listeners will respond to it quite favorably, especially if they have become tired of listening to the hard, shrill, bright sound found on some CDs. I didn't find DG's sound at all objectionable; I just didn't find it particularly natural or realistic.
One of Cleveland's finest efforts May 5 2015
By Fletch - Published on
I keep coming back to this recording and find it perennially astonishing. Opinions on Stokowski's strategy can be bandied, of course, but Knussen and Cleveland bring quite a lot of life to it and give this less often heard transcription a very heart-felt read. The tracks from Boris Godunov are dark and moody, atmospheric. Stokowski's ideas finally lose me on Night on Bald Mountain, I think the Ravel transcription is more cohesive and exciting, though the jaggedness of Leo's account is enjoyable.

In terms of timbre and orchestral technique, the engineering and playing are unequaled. Cleveland sounds magnificent here, in full bloom of post-Szell precision blessed with modern wind and brass technique with modern recording equipment used to best results. The strings sections have none of the fuzzy imprecision that virtually every other orchestra accepts, they move as a monolith whether delicate or thunderous. Another reviewer comments several times on the smoothness of the sound and I heartily agree - this is very good engineering that fully reveals Cleveland's flawless polish. For anyone looking to hear Cleveland at it's finest, this is the disc.

Knussen bows to the Cleveland approach, one of circumspect performance that never flies off the handle. His reading is relatively understated, but in the big moments, he brings the full power of the orchestra to bear, making for frisson-inducing summits. Outside of the thrills, Knussen never brings a compressed or academic feeling, he consistently works subtle magic into the music and brings an sense of continuity to the emotion of it. This reading of arguably difficult to present material is done with satisfying aplomb and natural drama.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Good disc March 3 2013
By Richard` Rodrick - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Always preferred the Stokowski orchestional version of this piece compared to the Ravel interpretation which to my ears is sort of drab and lifeless, this verisoni is much more invigorating.
Five Stars Aug. 25 2014
By Xierra - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A fantstic orchestration by Stokowski, and billiant splendid performance by Cleveland Orchestra.
5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Terrific performances Nov. 1 2005
By Music fan - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Don't bother with the new Naxos or an older BBC recording of these works. This easily beats them in all aspects: orchestra, conductor, etc. The others don't come close.