Mussorgsky, Stravinsky

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COMPOSERS: Mussorgsky,Stravinsky
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Seddon); The Rite of Spring (arr. Stravinsky)
PERFORMER: Tamriko Siprashvili, Mark Anderson (piano)
It may not be quite as outlandish as his pianola version, but Stravinsky’s arrangement for two pianos of The Rite of Spring has much to tell us: what you lose in terms of the score at its most multi-layered you gain in the clarity of chords and harmonic devices usually obscured by timpani or percussion. In the hands of husband-and-wife team Mark Anderson and Tamriko Siprashvili it remains an educational experience rather than the visceral event whipped up, say, by Ashkenazy and Gavrilov on a long-deleted Decca CD. Nimbus’s duo handle soulful melody and slow rituals very well indeed, but colour-changes often pass for nothing and the climactic dances remain clear-headed rather than overwhelming. In the case of Mark Seddon’s Mussorgsky transcription, more is usually less: octave doublings, fusty tremolos and the occasional fussy details add little to the original, which has in any case often been ‘editorialised’ by pianists like Horowitz and Pletnev. Best are the heavy-footed monsters of ‘Gnomus’ and ‘The Hut on Fowl’s Legs’; elsewhere, Anderson and Siprashvili rely a little too much on the sustaining pedal to puff up the two-piano concept. Connections between the two works, however, are stronger than usual. David Nice