One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


CD: AmazonUK
Download: Classicsonline

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures at an Exhibition (original piano version (1874) and the orchestration (1922) by Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)) [33:48; 36:17]
Oleg Marshev (piano)
Odense Symphony Orchestra/Jan Wagner
rec. Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, 1-4 May 2001 (orchestral version) and 19-20 February 2009 (original version). DDD
Experience Classicsonline

When I was starting to listen to classical music the chance of hearing the original (piano) version of Pictures was a rare thing. One would have thought that the music only existed thanks to Maurice Ravel. I remember reading that the reason pianists seldom played the work was because it was unpianistic. Perhaps it doesn’t lay easily under the hands but it certainly isn’t unplayable. It suffered because of the obviously orchestral colouring which the composer sought. The strangest idea I ever heard was that the piano version was, in reality, a very full sketch for an orchestral version which Mussorgsky never got round to making. I now wonder if excuses were being made for Ravel’s orchestration.

As a piano work Pictures at an Exhibition is now seen as the masterpiece it so obviously is. To be sure, it needs a pianist with a huge technique to get round the, admittedly, sometimes crazy writing, but the result, in performance, is quite exhilarating. Marshev has the technique for this work and he gives a very fine performance indeed. What’s more, he has obviously given much thought as to how to present the piece. His performances of the Promenade, which appears five (and a half) times is given quite deadpan; he knows that this isn’t the most important music here and he won’t allow it to overshadow the pictures themselves. This is an excellent idea and I welcome it. Marshev sometimes takes liberties with the tempi and dynamic markings but he is always in control of what he is doing. Thus Gnomus might not be the most malevolent and nasty fellow but he’s slippery and quite unfriendly and the Old Castle is creepily dark and haunted – more Bates Motel than Clifford’s Tower. Marshev never overstates anything and thus The Grand Gate of Kiev is well sustained but never allowed to become overblown. This is a fine performance indeed and well worth having but my first choices still rest with Sviatoslav Richter (The Sofia recital 25 February 1958 – magnificently re-mastered on Philips PHCP-9597 (coupled with Schubert, Liszt and Rachmaninov miniatures)) and the two Horowitz versions. The latter can be heard on RCA Gold Seal 09026605262 – coupled with miniatures (1947 studio recording) and 603212RG (the hair-raising 1951 Carnegie Hall recital - coupled with a live 1943 Tchaikovsky 1st Concerto with Toscanini – where he touches up the writing and plays even more notes than Mussorgsky wrote but he plays at white heat. Be warned, although quite outstanding, his interpretations are not for everyone and anyone wanting a more thoughtful and straightforward account will be very well pleased with Marshev. 

Jan Wagner’s performance of the orchestral version is just about right. He is one of the few conductors who understand this to be what it is; a French work based on a Russian original. As with Rimsky’s tamperings with Mussorgsky’s works, where he rounded out all the jagged edges, Ravel has done the same for Pictures. This orchestration is colourful and entertaining but it is far too “gentlemanly” for this rugged music. But it’s enjoyable enough and I know it gives a lot of pleasure. Like Marshev, Wagner never allows the music to become bloated and he keeps a firm hand on the performance. 

This is a good coupling and anyone interested in both versions of this score will be well pleased with the disk. The recorded sound is crisp and clear for Marshev but a little recessed for Wagner, but everything is clearly audible, with the most discreet positioning of the percussion. A delightful disk.

Bob Briggs



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.