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CLASSICAL SOURCE. MUSSORGSKY

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

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

Although this release is not the first to juxtapose Pictures at an Exhibition in Mussorgsky’s original version for piano with Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of it (Ashkenazy/Mehta, on Decca, and Brendel/Previn, on Philips, spring immediately to mind), it is instructive to have two versions of this popular work side-by-side and, in particular, an opportunity to savour how the composer himself wrote the piece (there are so many transcriptions of it that there is a danger of losing sight of Mussorgsky’s intentions!) Oleg Marshev gives a particularly illuminating account of Mussorgsky’s original (beautifully recorded, too, in its presence, clarity and balance). Marshev’s approach to the linking ‘Promenades’ is particularly thoughtful and varied, and his characterisation of the canvases themselves is descriptive enough without losing the line of the work as a whole. It’s an impressive performance, overall, avoiding extremes, quite symphonic yet not denuding the pictorial elements and played with plenty of feeling; a strong candidate as a ‘library choice’.

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