Piano Society
Free Classical Keyboard Recordings
It is currently Tue Oct 21, 2014 10:58 pm

All times are UTC - 1 hour




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:12 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
I'm playing this in a recital tomorrow and made the recording when I was trying out the grand piano at the venue this morning (a Bösendorfer). I recorded it in one go and just chopped the recording up. There are some slips and inaccuracies in it, particularly in the last two movements (which are bastards to play anyway). I still hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy playing it.

The movements are:

Promenade
Gnomus
Promenade
Il vecchio castello
Promenade
Tuileries (Dispute d'enfants aprés jeux)
Bydlo
Promenade
Ballet of the Unhateched Chicks
"Samuel" Goldenberg und "Schmuyle"
Promenade
Limoges le marché (La grande nouvelle)
Catacombae (Sepulchrum romanum)
Con mortuis in lingua mortua
The Hut on Hen's Legs (Baba-Yaga)
The Knight's Gate (in the Ancient Capital, Kiev)

Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 1 "Promenade - Gnomus"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 2 "Promenade - Il Vecchio Castello"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 3 "Promenade - Les Tuileries"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 4 "Bydlo"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 5 "Promenade - Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 6 "Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an EXhibition, no. 7 "Promenade - The Market at Limoges - Catacombae - Con mortuis in lingua mortua"
Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition, no. 8-9, "Baba-Yaga (The Hut on Chicken's Legs) - The Great Gate of Kiev"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:24 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:58 pm
Posts: 11
I downloaded them all and stuck them on my mp3 player to listen to while I did chores around the house and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your performance


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:28 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Thanks. I'm glad I could brighten up your doing the chores a bit :-)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:07 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jun 27, 2009 3:32 pm
Posts: 499
Location: Connecticut, USA
Great to listen to a performance of this piece. It used to be one of my war horses during my college years, but it's been a while :P It's indeed a finger-breaking bear of a piece, and overall your performance is quite solidly executed. Especially impressive is the fact that you basically set it all down in one take. I certainly wouldn't worry at all about slips in a piece like this. I don't think anyone gets through unscathed, even Horowitz or Richter :) While the basic framework of your performance is certainly intact, I do have some specific comments and suggestions for improvement. Forgive me if I'm overly verbose; I love this music :D

Promenade 1 and Gnomus: Nothing much to criticize here. You capture the noble, stately stride of the promenade nicely. I like how you dig into the keys on the Gnomus and bring to mind the grotesque, misshapen image of the gnome in the pesante passages (at least I think I remember it that way from the picture :P ) Interesting piano variation on the repeat and good observance of the rests. Nice gliding legato in the accelerando passage and trills, and I really admire your ending for not rushing through it. So many pianists fudge the notes in the culminating passage. IMO though brief, this has to be one of the most physically taxing and clumsy passages in all piano music. You really get the con tutta forza element as marked by Mussorgsky. One small detail in the Gnomus that I noticed is in the last note of the measure right before the first Vivo, you play G-flat instead of F? Maybe your score has it like that though, and Mussorgsky had so many alterations that he covered with ink strips :P

Promenade 2 and Il Vecchio Castillo: Here I think you could be a little more delicate and have a bit more rubato and rhythmic interest. It just starts to sound a bit pedestrian to my ears after a while. The promenade could be more sung and legato, and above all softer (some una corda could help in dashes) In Il Vecchio Castillo, the dotted rhythms, while not exactly cheated, could have a bit more retention. Part of the problem may be that the tempo is just slightly on the slow side (it's an andantino, but yours sounds more like a largo to me). Two small details I noticed is that in the third measure of the promenade, second chord, something sounds wrong (G-flat instead of G natural for the middle note?). Also, measure 15 of Il Vecchio, on the G-sharp, I think you play a quarter-note instead of two rests following by an eighth note (at least in my edition).

Promenade 3 and Tuileries: Again, nice pesante aspect of the promenade. The Tuileries is one tricky bitch of a piece, at least the way it's written. I resorted to all kinds of cheating myself when I played it :D For instance some of those inner voices can be played by the left hand reaching over, and it does sound like you already do some of that. Your initial tempo is good, I think, but then it starts to get a bit bogged down and labored in places. The main thing I think you could do is lighten up and capture more of its carefree, childlike spirit. Toward the end, there are a couple of struggled passages where you slow down. Those are damn difficult the way they're written though. Are you using the left hand to grab those? And the chromatic-like scale is a bit flubbed and pedalled. Nice elegant ending though. I would find it more convincing if you could relax like that for the rest of the piece.

Bydlo: This may be my favorite of the set for its distinctly Slavic feel. One thing I've always wondered about this piece is regarding Mussorgsky's markings. You play ff as indicated but it seems that the piece has nowhere to go then by the time you get to the con tutta forza. Personally I would favor starting out more mp and make more of a crescendo so it all has more meaning. The score seems so bereft of dynamic markings that maybe we can add a few of our own in this case? Another problem with playing ff in the bass at the beginning is that the melody can't sing, In yours it sounds rather drowned in the texture. Maybe the melody could be ff and the bass mp-mf. Also the rhythm sounds just a tad jerky in places: I think the ox-cart needs to be more steady. Nice dynamic setup for the con tutta forza, however, and great whispering fadeout and ritard into the perdendosi.

Promenade 4 and Chicks: Nice handling of the tranquillo aspect at the beginning of the promenade. It does seem a tad on the slow side to me, and the lefthand octaves might be a bit overly serious and blurred with pedal. Nice subito lead-in to the chicks. The chicks is quite well played, very even, accurate, and clear, no mean feat. It could perhaps be lighter still even though it does sound like you're using the una corda. Nice graceful trills in particular. Overall, very well done.

Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle: Some of the rhythms here, especially the dotted ones, seem as though they could be a bit more precise. The triplet passage is clear, but the trills stick out just a tad perhaps. My main bone of contention is that there could be more rhythmic freedom, more of an attempt at capturing the scene -- rubato, ritards at junctures to pick up the contrast better between the hard-hearted Samuel and the pitiable Schmuyle (hope I didn't mix that up :P ). It all seems just a bit too straight. One rhythm that didn't seem right to me is the thirty-seconds leading into the final Grave passage. It sounded to me as if you played them more as sixteenths.

Promenade 5, Limoges, and Con Mortuis: Nice noble stride for the promenade once again. The Limoges is IMO the most difficult of the set. Quite an impressive tempo at the outset. It may be just a hair on the fast side, if only because you sag a bit later on in places, although you seem to notice it in yourself and pick it up again right afterward. Great mordant sforzandos in general. Those are really difficult to play in this texture IMO and you really drive them home. There is a strange-sounding hesitation leading into the repeated notes to the reprise. Is there a page turn there? The thirty-second interlocking chords leading into the attaca are a real doozy -- the single most difficult passage in the piece for me. I admire your relentlessness, but they do seem a bit loud and I might suggest playing them more staccato without pedal and just a bit faster. At a slightly faster tempo, they'll blend together so well you won't need pedal :D Nice Dracula-like effect for the catacombs. In the con mortuis, the tremolos seem as though they could be a bit more rhythmic, lighter, and even in sound.

Hut and Gate: I hate to to say it, but this is the only part of your performance that I have more serious reservations about. The tempo is just too slow and the texture too turgid to get across the feroce aspect. I know you're probably being cautious for the sake of greater accuracy, but I think you need to go for the gusto and miss a few more notes especially since you miss a few even at this tempo. They'll be less noticeable at a greater tempo anyway. :D Your sforzatos here in the lefthand octaves seem weak, which surprises me since they are quite good elsewhere in the set and a lot of the chords are too pounded and thick and thus lack the gruesome bite it seems Mussorgsky was after. The Andante section too seems too slow and fails to get across the ominous mystery. The Gate is much the same story. Too cautious and missing the grandness and heroism. Maybe it all just needs more time to mature.


Any reservations aside, I admire the masculine solidity of this performance and your taking on of this mammoth, craggy work, almost indisputably the greatest piece of Russian piano music ever composed. I know I've gone on way too long here out of enthusiasm, but I hope you find some use in my comments.

Joe

_________________
Movie Blog: http://www.criticsloft.com
Classical Music Web Site: http://www.critics-ear.com
Youtube Piano Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Chopin849?feature=mhee


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 6:41 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Thank you Joe for your comments -- this is much appreciated. I agree, Baba-Yaga and Kiev are much too cautious in the recording. I wish I had recorded my recital last night, when I didn't play these two pieces cautiously at all and really went for it. And - lo and behold - they came out powerful, noble, grand and flawless (in fact, the whole cycle went so much better than when I recorded it, which is because of the live situation and the increased excitement leading to higher concentration). I'm not happy with the recording of the last two pieces myself but I don't have access to the venue and the fantastic Bösendorfer, so I won't be able to redo the two pieces.

The hesitation before the repeated notes in Limoges is indeed down to turning the page.

Otherwise, I'll give my recording another listen later on with your comments in mind (I actually haven't listened to it properly).

Thanks again for your comments and suggestions.

Cheers

Daniel


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:53 pm 
Offline
Site Admin

Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 12:38 pm
Posts: 8511
These are up.

_________________
"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:13 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Thanks, Monica!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:35 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:34 pm
Posts: 65
Location: Bristol, UK
Very nice!
It's a piece I've studied and know fairly well although I haven't actually got the chops to play it properly :cry: .I get the impression from your playing that you've also known this piece for a long time and thought about it deeply.I would agree that the The Great Gate is a little too restrained in places.Also in the octave passage the left hand melody gets lost, which is a pity.Still great playing though.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition
PostPosted: Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:06 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2008 8:02 am
Posts: 163
Location: Sankt Augustin, Germany
Thank you! There's indeed a long-standing attachment between "Pictures" and me and I haven't played any other piece as often over the years as this one.

In the present recording, the last two movements are not very good at all, unfortunately. I've played the whole cycle in four recitals this year and I have now put it away for the time being. I'm sure I'll get back to it sooner or later and then I'll do a proper re-recording (with someone turning the pages so there won't be any gaps).

Cheers


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 1 hour


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group