Pictures at an Exhibition – Mussorgsky’s Original & Ravel’s Orchestration [Oleg Marshev & Jan Wagner]

0 of 5 stars

Mussorgsky
Pictures at an Exhibition
Mussorgsky, orchestrated Ravel
Pictures at an Exhibition

Oleg Marshev (piano)

Odense Symphony Orchestra
Jan Wagner

Both recorded in Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark – Mussorgsky’s original on 19-20 February 2009, Ravel’s orchestration on 1-4 May 2001


Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: June 2009
CD No: DANACORD DACOCD 656
Duration: 70 minutes

not record Ravel’s scoring of Pictures; for however brilliant and masterly the Frenchman’s orchestration is, it is so often played that one of the others might have made an appearance.

Nonetheless, this performance from Odense is quite individual, rather too measured in the first ‘Promenade’ (and elsewhere) – maybe – but always interesting in that Jan Wagner eschews a flashy, showpiece approach to music (in Ravel’s version) that can all-too-easily be taken for granted. Certainly there seems to be a concern to paint in orchestral sound rather than use the music for ‘concerto’ purposes, and if some of the Pictures can seem a little too careful (pedestrian, even), Wagner’s deliberate approach (save, frustratingly, in ‘Bydlo’, although Marshev is also on the quick side for lumbering oxen!) does pay many dividends, and the Odense Symphony Orchestra (cleanly recorded in a discernible acoustic, the same space is rather curtailed for Marshev) is well-prepared and boasts some fine soloists.

Some listeners might find that Wagner’s interpretation is too analysed and they may also miss the quicker section’s deftness and require greater colour. But Wagner also creates the sense that this is a related gallery, an occasion to step back and admire Victor Hartmann’s paintings with more time than we usually have, for Jan Wagner seems as concerned with the mechanics of the music as with the overall result.

It’s good to hear Ravel’s version given with this amount of time, space and dignity – and Marshev’s account of the piano original is particularly rewarding.

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