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Pictures at An Exhibition


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Product Details

  • Composer: Mussorgsky
  • Audio CD (April 15 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B00008IHVZ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,304 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Night on the bare mountain (Rimsky-Korsakov version)
2. Hopak from Sorochintsy fair
3. Golitsin's exile from Khovanshchina
4. Night on the bare mountain (Original version)
5. Pictures at an exhibition (orch. Ravel)

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Format: Audio CD
This is quite a spectacular disc for a number of reasons. For one thing, Naxos ingenious plans to include both the Rimsky-Korsakov and the original versions of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bare Mountain", the folkloristic Hopak dance from "Sorochinsky Fair", and Entr'acte to Act IV, Scene II of "Khovanshchina" with the "Pictures at an Exhibition" pays off extremely well. What's more is the quality of the recordings, which are among the most vivid and spectacular in the catalogue. These recordings capture the essence of the works flawlessly yet authentically, and huge dividends must be given to engineer Andrij Mokrysky and editor Vyacheslav Zhadanov for placing the microphones exactly at the right places. Editing does indeed pays off.
And Kuchar with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine are among the biggest stars here. Kuchar's renditions are perfectly ideal and his treatment of the orchestral witches' sabbath have bite and raw excitement. And yet I don't feel overblown by this, but rewardingly overwhelmed. I cannot imagine a better delivery of the original version than what I've heard here. The brass and woodwinds are virtuousic and the strings are of real bloom, illuminance, and attack while the percussionists (especially the bass drummer) are menacing and spellbinding. Other recordings of the original "Night on Bare Mountain" sound too well-mannered and too faithful, while Kuchar takes it to new heights (and yet the essence of the piece and of the composer remains intact & even more authentic). Kuchar's performance of this version helps to dispel, at least in my view, the notion that the Rimsky-Korsakov version should continue to be the standard of the two.
Kuchar's "Pictures at an Exhibition" is likewise outstanding and to my mind the leader of the pack.
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Format: Audio CD
We've all heard jillions of recordings and performances of both Rimsky-Korsakoff's orchestration of "Night on Bare Mountain" and Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures at an Exhibition." If you don't already have a good recording of these two pieces, you can find both of them here in more than creditable performances and at a bargain basement price. Plus there is a performance of "Bare Mountain" in Mussorgsky's original orchestration; I've never found it as satisfying as Ravel's version, which is a virtual re-write, but it's nice to have side by side with the more familiar version. There is something fitting that "Pictures" is played by an orchestra based in Kiev, since that piece ends with the spectacular "Great Gate of Kiev." And they don't let us down. Indeed, throughout this CD I was really impressed with the work of the brass and winds particularly. They almost sound like the Cleveland Orchestra in Szell's famous recording of these pieces (heresy for me to say that, I know). Further, the sound on this disc is pretty darn good.
Theodore Kuchar, an American conductor who has been appointed "Conductor Laureate for Life" of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine with which he has been associated since 1994 and with which he has made oodles of good recordings for Naxos, conducts taut, exciting performances that lack only the slightest degree of suavity. That's one of the great things about Naxos: they find a good orchestra (and make no mistake - this orchestra is GOOD) and a good conductor and they put them to work recording.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A disc for the Twenty-first Century: A model set of surveys May 19 2003
By David Anthony Hollingsworth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is quite a spectacular disc for a number of reasons. For one thing, Naxos ingenious plans to include both the Rimsky-Korsakov and the original versions of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bare Mountain", the folkloristic Hopak dance from "Sorochinsky Fair", and Entr'acte to Act IV, Scene II of "Khovanshchina" with the "Pictures at an Exhibition" pays off extremely well. What's more is the quality of the recordings, which are among the most vivid and spectacular in the catalogue. These recordings capture the essence of the works flawlessly yet authentically, and huge dividends must be given to engineer Andrij Mokrysky and editor Vyacheslav Zhadanov for placing the microphones exactly at the right places. Editing does indeed pays off.
And Kuchar with the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine are among the biggest stars here. Kuchar's renditions are perfectly ideal and his treatment of the orchestral witches' sabbath have bite and raw excitement. And yet I don't feel overblown by this, but rewardingly overwhelmed. I cannot imagine a better delivery of the original version than what I've heard here. The brass and woodwinds are virtuousic and the strings are of real bloom, illuminance, and attack while the percussionists (especially the bass drummer) are menacing and spellbinding. Other recordings of the original "Night on Bare Mountain" sound too well-mannered and too faithful, while Kuchar takes it to new heights (and yet the essence of the piece and of the composer remains intact & even more authentic). Kuchar's performance of this version helps to dispel, at least in my view, the notion that the Rimsky-Korsakov version should continue to be the standard of the two.
Kuchar's "Pictures at an Exhibition" is likewise outstanding and to my mind the leader of the pack. The 'Promenade' sounds well enough, with appropriate majesty and fanfare. But the vivid and the colouristic qualities Kuchar and his ensemble bring forth in 'Gnomus' are sure signs of more of these to come. Every note on every bar are played as if another set of pictures are being painted and this team's sense of imagination cannot escape me even for a minute. Listen to 'Tuileries' and the 'Ballet of the Chickens in their Shells' and notice how playful yet rewardingly naive-sounding Kuchar turns them out to be. Kuchar's 'The Bydlo' is majestic, but turn to 'Catacombs', and you sense something's about to happen. The string tremolo in the next movement 'With the Dead in the Language of the Dead' is awesomely mysterious in Kuchar's hands. But the grandioseness in The Great Gate of Kiev is again spellbinding, with the percussionists (especially the bass drummer) really "hitting it on the head" here.
So,....while I'll prefer Svetlanov's performance of the Hopak dance and Entr'acte to Act IV, Scene II of "Khovanshchina" recorded by the BMG/RCA label (simply because they sound more authentically Russian and vivacious), Kuchar's a conductor with considerable vision and insightfulness. As in his previous recordings, especially of Lyatoshynsky's symphonies, Kuchar is a conductor who knows how each note is to be play and how and I cannot find anything bland in his readings. Simply put, his intuition shows depth in his understanding of the scores and on each listening, his recordings show more than one way of how a score can be approached (and I cannot envision a better Lyatoshyskian conductor than Kuchar). Moreover, the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine must be looked upon as a first class orchestra. It's a very impressive body of musicians whose as deep as Kuchar, and it is nice to notice how well this ensemble evolved over the past decade. Kuchar's introductions of obscure works, especially of American composers, I think plays a key role in improving the orchestra's sense of anticipation and maturity. I suspect that this well-versed team and its daring, insightful Conductor-Laureate for Life will continue to be talked about at least for quite some time.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent versions of Pictures and Bare Mountain Oct. 28 2005
By moviemusicbuff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I own several versions of "Pictures of an Exhibition" and "Night on Bare Mountain" (e.g. Fritz Reiner, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein) and this version conducted by Kuchar is one of the best. It is equal to (if not better than) higher priced versions. Under Kuchar's skillful direction, the National Symphony Orchestra gives exciting and powerful performances of these famous pieces and those additional works (like the delightful "Hopak"). It is great to have the more familiar Rimsky Korsakov orchestration to compare with the original version of "Night on Bare Mountain" --(personally speaking, I like the Rimsky Korsakov version better, since I'm so familiar with it). The performance of the Pictures of an Exhibition is excellent, and the National Symphony captures the different moods of each piece really well, leading up to an exciting climax in "The Great Gate of Kiev." This is a wonderful bargain of a CD, with great performances of these pieces, excellent sound quality, and a generous collection. The Penguin Guide of Classical Music rates this CD as "outstanding" and like me, you'll fully agree! Highly recommended.

You may want to check out Kuchar's version of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture on Naxos. It is equally good as this one.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
The Home Team plays "Great Gate of Kiev" . . . and Wins May 6 2003
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
We've all heard jillions of recordings and performances of both Rimsky-Korsakoff's orchestration of "Night on Bare Mountain" and Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures at an Exhibition." If you don't already have a good recording of these two pieces, you can find both of them here in more than creditable performances and at a bargain basement price. Plus there is a performance of "Bare Mountain" in Mussorgsky's original orchestration; I've never found it as satisfying as Ravel's version, which is a virtual re-write, but it's nice to have side by side with the more familiar version. There is something fitting that "Pictures" is played by an orchestra based in Kiev, since that piece ends with the spectacular "Great Gate of Kiev." And they don't let us down. Indeed, throughout this CD I was really impressed with the work of the brass and winds particularly. They almost sound like the Cleveland Orchestra in Szell's famous recording of these pieces (heresy for me to say that, I know). Further, the sound on this disc is pretty darn good.
Theodore Kuchar, an American conductor who has been appointed "Conductor Laureate for Life" of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine with which he has been associated since 1994 and with which he has made oodles of good recordings for Naxos, conducts taut, exciting performances that lack only the slightest degree of suavity. That's one of the great things about Naxos: they find a good orchestra (and make no mistake - this orchestra is GOOD) and a good conductor and they put them to work recording. Kuchar and Ukraine NSO have given us other Russian music, yes, but a lot of American music, too, like the Harris Symphonies 7 & 9 (fabulous), Paul Creston's Symphonies 1-3, and the revelatory and irreplaceable recording of the Piston Violin Concerti with James Oliver Buswell as soloist.
Also on this disc are the fast and furious 'Gopak' from "Sorochintsy Fair," and the dramatic 'Golitsin's Exile' from "Khovanshchina."
An easy recommendation.
Scott Morrison
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Mussourgsky- Night On Bald Mountain (orchestrated by Mussourgsky) Dec 25 2007
By Rich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording features a very seldom recorded version of Night On Bald Mountain- Mussourgsky's own original orchestration. Most often heard is Rimsky-Korsakov's re-orchestration, which, after comparing the two, is a somewhat "cleaned-up"- and thus watered down- rendition of the piece. Make the comparison for yourself, and I'm sure you'll get the impression that in the process of making the work a bit more "polished"- trimming the piece here & there (where it seemingly bogs down a bit, on occasion, not to mention changing the tonality as well, in places), R-K lost more than a slight amount of the wild flavor that this piece so brilliantly offers the listener. Whichever version you prefer, both deserve to be heard. Personally, having heard the R-K version for so many years, after finally hearing the original, I cannot imagine why the original orchestration is now nearly lost to the typical concert repertoire. If you love hearing Mussorgsky's work, don't miss this one!

Review by Rich Saylor
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Magnificent Mussorgsky Feb. 12 2011
By Sentinel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderfully powerful, brass-heavy, dramatic collection. Kuchar drives the Ukrainian Orchestra hard, but they rise to the challenge, producing exhilarating accounts of 'Picture' and two versions of 'Night on the Bare Mountain', the later one demonstrating just how much extra excitement Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration adds. However, this is not simply a powerhouse display throughout, as there is plenty of light and shade here, and delicate touches where required, which add to the rich character of the overall performance, enhanced by a fine recording which allows the brass to bite with urgency, yet allows more delicate string work to glitter in its own way.
If you're looking for a thrilling and exhilarating account of these pieces, you simply can't go wrong, especially at such a bargain price: both the Gramophone and the Penguin Guide agree. Wonderfully exciting.

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