Paavo Järvi continues his series of Russian recordings with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with a disc entirely devoted to works by Mussorgsky.
Pictures at an Exhibition, originally composed for piano, is heard here in the orchestration by Ravel. Mussorgsy wrote pictures as a tribute to his friend, artist and architect Viktor Hartmann. The familiar Promenade theme links Mussorgsky’s imaginary tour of Hartmann’s exhibition.
Rimsky-Korsakov, who felt that Night on Bald Mountain had many marvellous effects, tried to resurrect it after his friend died. He smoothed out many of the irregularities and improved the orchestration, most likely working from the final version of the piece.
The Prelude to Mussorgsky’s ill-fated opera Khovanschchina is titled Dawn on the Moskva River. Mussorgsky composed much of the music for the first four acts, but orchestrated only a small amount of it. The task of orchestrating and completing the opera fell to his friend Rimsky-Korsakov. The Prelude sets the scene for Act I in the Red Square in Moscow, and uses a theme of distinctly Russian folk character, which undergoes a series of melodic variations.