Pictures at an Exhibition orch. Ravel Chicago SO,
Night on the Bare Mountain BPO, Maazel
Songs and Dances of Death Fassbaender, Gotheburg SO, Jarvi
Prelude and Dance of Persian Slave Girls
Vienna State Opera, Abbado
Russian Nat Orch, Pletnev
Pictures from an Exhibition
Vishnevskaya, Russian SSO,Markevitch
Boris Godunov (excerpts)
Ghiaurov, Maslennoikov, VPO, Karajan
DG Panorama series.
469 169 -2. 2 CDs Bargain price
The orchestral version of Pictures has 15 tracks the piano version
has 14, daft, isn't it? This is because the movement The Old Castle and
the succeeding promenade in the piano version is one track whereas
in the orchestral version it is two.
In this recording the orchestral version is about four and a half minutes
longer than the piano version. Perhaps this is because the orchestral version
is more colourful and the colours need to come out. But it is more obvious
that Richter wants to speed things up. Giulini is interested in detail, some
of which I have not heard before particularly in a staggering performance
of the Bydlo movement. And can't you just tell that this is Ravel's
orchestration. Bolero is not far away. The Ballet of the Unhatched
Chicks is very well caught.... the woodwind are quite brilliant. The
Samuel Goldenburg Tableaux is an awful piece and where Ravel's
orchestration could be called into question. How well Giulini transports
us to be among the dead... really grim, sinister and powerful music. The
power that Giulini unleashes in The Hut on Chicken's Legs is breathtaking
and stirring but the subtle music is equally effective. What a magnificent
orchestra Fritz Reiner made the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and so
, in 1977, Giulini reaps the benefit as
have other conductors.
The Great Gate at Kiev is an awful piece to bring off. It can be played
so statically, stiffly, slowly and dully. It can just be noise and pause.
I was amazed at Giulini's wise tempo and how he made an excellent job of
a doubtful piece of music and orchestration. I have not heard this problematical
final movement played better. Giulini has done what no other conductor has
done. He has made the music live and get off its bottom!
But there is a problem.
When you hear a fine performance like this and later have to review another
performance you make comparisons and the second performance will suffer because
of the superb first performance.
Songs and Dances of Death is an amazing song cycle of tremendous emotional
and dramatic power, more concise and threfore more effective than those by
Mahler. Fassbaender is absolutely magnificent. Her earthy voice with its
compelling quality and range is truly superlative. Her communication skill
is supreme. Here is one of the greatest voices and singers of the present
time. A performance beyond praise.
Richter's version of Pictures was a typical eccentric performance
that one is used to from him, by now. It was mannered with strange tempi
, a smattering of very bad wrong notes,
even allowing for a live performance. And a very cold performance.
The Six Songs has Galina Vishnevskaya in marvellous voice. I was very
impressed. She is almost as good as Fassbaender. The songs are very strong,
often dramatic and very exciting. My, those upward vocal glissandi.
The excerpts from Boris Godunov were hugely enjoyable once one got
over the hurdle that this is Karajan conducting and adding his extraneous
matter to the score. It is a great opera and the performance conducted by
Andre Clutyens remains my favourite . But
I am very fussy about opera.