16 February 2011

Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition

Last night I finished an essay that I'd been working on for way too long, and after I finally finished it I wanted some loud celebratory music. Unfortunately it was 2 at night and my neighbours probably wouldn't have appreciated any type of loudness, but here's what I would've played if it wouldn't have been so late:

Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition: Baba Yaga (orchestrated by Maurice Ravel).
Played by the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by professional badass Esa-Pekka Salonen (this fragment also has The Great Gates of Kiev which is really not half as much fun).

Some more Pictures at an Exhibition: Bydlo, Promenade and
Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks.

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) was a Russian composer and member of 'The Five' (the others being Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Balakirev and Cui). His most famous works, apart from the Pictures at an Exhibition are probably Night on Bald Mountain and the AMAZING opera Boris Godunov. I have to admit that I don't know all that much about Mussorgsky (maybe I should stop saying this though, because I only really know things about Shostakovich) but he had a very impressive beard. Pictures at an Exhibition was originally a piano suite, and it was inspired by a number of paintings by Viktor Hartmann. Maurice Ravel (a very good composer in his own right) fortunately made an awesome orchestration (as did a whole bunch of other people like Ashkenazy and Stokowski). It's a very interesting piece of music because it really does seem to depict the paintings, Mussorgsky seems somehow to have translated visual elements into musical notes (and added a whole lotta extra UMPH). For more information about the paintings and the music I recommend reading this blogpost.

If you like this, you should listen to the rest of Pictures at an Exhibition, Part I, Part II, Part IV, Part V and also the aforementioned Night on Bald Mountain.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed listening to those pieces :D The music is so descriptive I can imagine scenes to go with it. Mussorgsky really have translated visual elements into musical notes and it sounds great.

    Now I'm really curious about the other piece you mentioned, Night on Bald Mountain. I'm definitely going to listen to it :)