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Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures at an Exhibition (1874) [32:38]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Album for the Young, Op.39 (1878) [31:22]
Echo rustique, Op.72 No.13 [3:52]
Vladimir Feltsman (piano)
rec. May 2002, Sala Nezahualcóyotl, National University of Mexico
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6211 [67:46]

 
This is a reissue of Vladimir Feltsman’s Urtext CD recorded in Mexico back in May 2002 and originally released in 2004. Its reappearance now is as part of a slew of licensed recordings on Nimbus Alliance. Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition takes centre-stage pianistically in the programme. It’s a strongly argued performance, consistent and well characterised, and one that manages to surmount a somewhat clangy, unsympathetic recorded quality.
 
Gnomus is quizzical as well as sinister, and here Feltsman uses quite a bit of pedal. Whilst the Old Castle isn’t quite as atmospheric as some others it has plenty of colour. The promenades themselves are extremely well realised with copious variety. Tuileries is elegantly dispatched with much refined playing to be heard. In the context Bydlo is soundly tailored to the prevailing expressive tenor of the performance, which thus skirts the more visceral approaches of, say, Richter and Horowitz. He brings out some interesting pointing in the B section of the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks, with deft attention to detail throughout. He moves powerfully from Baba Yaga into The Great Gate of Kiev, though immediately subdues tone and volume the better to summon up the increasing generation of awe. With incremental steps he builds up and through the music to a fitting conclusion.
 
Baba Yaga makes reappearance in Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young, a selection of pieces very much predicated on Schumannesque lines and composed in 1878. These delicate and refined character studies are droll, amusing and sweet in turn. Feltsman is especially good at conveying the rhythmic basis of The New Doll or evoking the direct Schumann influence on The Sick Doll. He is also good at the wit of the Polka and the graciously verdant, compact German Song. As an envoi Feltsman plays a richly chorded and welcome Echo rustique, from Op.72.
 
Jonathan Woolf