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Mussorgsky-Ravel: Bilder einer Ausstellung
Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Igor Markevitch
Mussorgsky-Ravel: Bilder einer Ausstellung
Genre: Classical


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Interesting performances by a distinguished conductor
Brad Alan Deamer | 07/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Igor Markevitch is not exactly a household name today, but in his time he was a well-known conductor, who made many fine recordings for Deutsche Grammophon. These particular mono recordings, reissued on a budget-priced CD, are worth acquiring for the conductor's interpretations.

Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, in its familiar Ravel orchestration, is beautifully played by the Berlin Philharmonic--sounding much less homogenized in tonal quality than it became under Karajan in the 1960s. It's surprising how much detail can be heard in the clean monophonic sound, which also has plenty of impact in the climaxes.

The Lamoureux Concert Association Orchestra (of Paris) is not quite in the same class as the Berlin ensemble, but the orchestra gives Markevitch its best in the three works by Rimsky-Korsakov that fill out the CD. There is an attractive account of the atmospheric overture to the opera May Night; and a group of selections from the opera The Golden Cockerel does full justice to the color and exoticism of the music. The surprise on this CD is the performance of the Russian Easter Overture. Markevitch delivers a downright frenzied reading of the score: it sounds more like some sort of orgiastic pagan rite than a celebration of Easter. The alto trombone solo is very "French" in sound (i.e., lots of vibrato) and rather jazzy in the freedom of its phrasing. When the rest of the brass section kicks in, in the climaxes of the work, some of the brass tone is decidedly raw in timbre, with a razor-sharp "edge"--no doubt an acquired taste; but I kind of like it--it makes other performances of this score seem bland by comparison.

At budget price, you get what you pay for. The packaging is a cardboard folder with the plastic tray holding the CD glued to the inside of one flap. This doesn't do much to protect the CD from dust. The "notes" consist of a single paragraph of "appreciation" of the conductor--there is no information about the composers or the music. DG seems to have assumed that this release, like some of the others in the same series, will appeal to experienced collectors who want supplemental performances of the works in question. Still, those building a CD collection from scratch could do worse, provided they do not insist upon stereo (or digital!) sound.

Admirers of Markevitch will want to snap this up."
Just a Quick Addition
Michael B. Richman | Portland, Maine USA | 12/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The review below is excellent in describing the contents of this fine CD. I just wanted to inform potential buyers (and in particular serious collectors) that unlike most of the other releases in this second batch of ten discs in DG's "Musik...Sprache der Welt" series, all of this material has been previously issued on CD -- on one title in fact. The very same Mussorgsky "Pictures" and the Rimsky-Korsakov Overtures and "Golden Cockerel" Suite were all available on the now out-of-print (but still readily available and very affordable) two-disc collection "Eternal Russia." The sound here is much improved, and with Lorin Maazel's selections from "Eternal Russia" recently being reissued on his "Original Masters" box set (see my review), only three Markevitch performances now need to resurface -- Borodin's "In The Steppes of Central Asia," Glinka's "Russlan & Ludmilla" Overture and Liadov's "From the Apocalypse." Knowing DG those three recordings will probably end up in the next round of "Sprache der Welt" titles."
A golden and mercurial achievement!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 07/18/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

Igor Markevitch always had by this piece a very special affinity, having therefore an absolute domain of its whole significance; as a matter of fact, every time he conducted this hyper known work he added new, smart and significant details of expression, that enriched and ennobled still more the status of this composition. Markevitch directed this performance with dark poetry (The catacombs, and Baba Yaga), zealous and almost imperceptible accents carefully sculpted in the score.

This version to my mind must be included among the most pyramidal readings ever made. You will not find optimistic brightness, or radiant expressiveness, but a fervent Elegy in memory of Victor Hartman. So, please, take into account this memorable choice at the moment you demand a major and even most penetrating result.