Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" was inspired by a visit in early 1874 to a posthumous art exhibit of canvases by the talented artist and architect Victor Hartman who had been a close friend of the composer. Vocal cycles "Sunless" and "Songs & Dances of Death* on words by A. Golenishchev-Kutuzov were written by Mussorgsky in the middle of the 70s. "Songs & Dances of Death" — is the way the composer addresses the eternal human problems. "Golitsyn Train" is a picturesque symphonic episode from Act IV where the disgraced Prince Golitsyn is sent to an exile. The score of "Solemn March" (Capture of Kars) was completed on February 3, 1880 and soon performed at one of the concerts of the Russian Musical Society.
Comparing RCA's new Reiner Mussorgsky Pictures SACD to its previous Living Stereo CD incarnation is similar to the experience of viewing a television screen after wiping away accumulated dust. Everything appears clearer, with enhanced detail and impact. The noticeably improved stereo separation creates a solid, three-dimensional effect–even though this is the two-channel version. [Editor's Note: The three-channel remastering is equally successful, and even more vibrant overall.] Listen to The Old Castle and hear the precise placement of instrumental groups in the sound picture, especially the percussion, with its crisp cymbals and powerful, punchy bass drum. This is even more the case in The Hut on Fowls Legs, where the strings take on a newly detailed articulation. In the Great Gate of Kiev you can now hear the fabled Chicago brass sound in its full, unrestrained splendor. The remaining selections are just as impressive sonically. But of course, marveling at the sound quality of these 40-year-old recordings is only a secondary consideration. Reiner's magnificent and still-unequalled performances remain the real reason for acquiring this disc. For newcomers, these new SACD transfers should remove any hesitations regarding sound quality, while veterans will feel an old romance rekindled. – Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com
Pairing evergreen works by Dvorak and Mussorgsky, this superb video from Belvedere featuring the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the incomparable Mariss Jansons is a musical feast. Ever since its world premiere at New York's Carnegie Hall on December 15, 1893, Dvorak's American-flavored Symphony No.9 has been a cornerstone of the orchestral repertoire. Similarly, thanks to Ravel's superb orchestration, Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is a perennial audience favorite.
On this recording, Paul Lewis performs two major works of the keyboard repertoire. Decidedly programmatic, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is more commonly heard today in Ravel's orchestral version. However, the original for solo piano is both a technical tour-de-force and a brilliant example of the composer's coloristic gifts. The pairing is Schumann's Fantaisie Op.17, a work whose movements originally had evocative titles (Ruin, Triumphal Arch, Constellation). The 'program' was removed before publication, but the 'pictures' Schumann intended listeners to imagine remain.
A true celebration, ushering in the New Year with one of the finest orchestras and greatest conductors in the world. The 2007 Gala from Berlin features the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle in Alexander Borodin's Second Symphony, a richly lyrical work of immense poetic grandeur and fairy-tale magic, in a programme that also includes one of the greatest classical hits ever: Modest Mussorgsky's 'Pictures at an Exhibition'.