CLASSIC FM—MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition—piano version, orchestral version (orch Ravel)

Oleg Marshev pf Odense SO/ Jan Wagner Danacord DACOCD656 (70′.DDD)

The enterprising Danacord label has come up with the novel (though not unique) idea of coupling the original piano version of Mussorgsky’s masterpiece (1874) with Ravel orchestration (1922). Oleg Marshev is on top form with a well-paced, deftly characterised account with startling bursts of virtuosity that can hold its own with the best in a competitive field. By comparison, Wagner and his Odense players are merely staid and workmanlike. Some sluggish tempos (“Tuileries”, “Limoges” and the finale) and unimaginative takes on “Bydlo” and “Ballet of the Chicks” do not illuminate the full potential of this wonderful score. Both performances are vividly recorded.