ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition - Leif Ove Andses (Piano)


MODEST MUSSORGSKY - PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION - LEIF OVE ANDSNES (Piano) - EMI 698360

Who needs an orchestra when you have Leif Ove Andsnes. Most people prefer to hear the Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky in its orchestrated version, but in its original piano anima, it can be just as thrilling an experience when performed by a pianist who throws himself into the essence of the work. We all know that this composition represents a visitor to an art gallery who wanders from painting to painting, and the vivid impressions each of those pictures make on him. Leif Ove Andsnes renders each piece with such dramatic character, that they not only leave an impression, they almost leave an indelible mark.

The various Promenade episodes between each painting, are all given their own altered mood very effectively by Andsnes. Gnomus is depicted as being a truly nasty and spooky little creature. The way the old oxen pulled cart in Bydlo lumbers down the road and then very gradually disappears in the distance is very well portrayed. Listen to the emphasis given to the left hand in the Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks and the pinpoint accuracy of the right hand. The ever so subtle gradations of nuances in Catacombae are brilliantly achieved. The Hut on Fowl's Legs has never sounded this punchy and breathless before, and after the monumental power of the Great Gate of Kiev I was surprised the piano was still standing. All the colors of an orchestra right at his fingertips. A superlative interpretation.

Other pieces on the disc include four very rarely performed or recorded piano works by Mussorgsky and Kinderszenen Op. 15 by Robert Schumann, a beautiful 13-part suite of pieces depicting childhood. All of these are given the same attentive care and caliber of performance as the main attraction.

Jean-Yves Duperron