Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on the Bare Mountain; Boris Godunov Symphonic Synthesis; Khovanshchina – Entr’acte to Act IV

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Mussorgsky
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Pictures at an Exhibition; A Night on the Bare Mountain; Boris Godunov Symphonic Synthesis; Khovanshchina – Entr’acte to Act IV
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic/Matthias Bamert
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9445
Stokowski’s bloated orchestral transcriptions of keyboard pieces (reviewed in May 1996) are quite unique. In tackling Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, however, his version becomes merely one of many. If you accept the pre-eminence of Ravel’s quixotic orchestration, Stokowski’s comes highly commended. It is hard to forgive his omission of ‘Tuileries’ and ‘Limoges’ on the grounds that they were too French, but the emphasis on the grotesque and ghoulish elements in the pictures is highly effective. The same applies to A Night on the Bare Mountain, where Stokowski relishes the barbaric qualities of Mussorgsky’s original, which Rimsky-Korsakov had sensibly toned down when he edited the score after the composer’s death. But the Symphonic Synthesis culled from Boris Godunov is tedious melodrama. Perhaps Stokowski was waiting for the movie, for which it would provide a creditable soundtrack. Christopher Lambton

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