The 'dude', also known as Venezuelan conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, has a real affinity for this Russian music. He draws incredibly committed playing from the Vienna Philharmonic in a glorious sounding DG recording.
You can imagine a frosty Monday morning in Vienna. The orchestra members want to be home in bed and once again, the old warhorse Pictures at an Exhibition is on the stands. Again! It's at that moment the Vienna machine gets into gear. Dudamel is such a wonderful conductor, he could charm a great performance anytime, anywhere. But all musicians really outdo themselves, here.
First, the playing is superlative -- from the opening trumpet Promenade to all the myriad of colours and effects conjured by Ravel's orchestration, the orchestra is magnificent. Among the best Pictures on record. Listen to the solos or the sections -- solos of the highest distinction and flawless balances in ensemble.
It's a mainstream interpretation but it works just as it should - a leisurely walk through an art gallery. Each of Dudamel's tempos seems right to me - nothing rushed or hurried but highlighting the incredible virtuosity of the players.
Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition celebrates the work of Russian artist Viktor Hartmann. Mussorgsky's original piano piece depicted his paintings and other works of art. Ravel orchestrated Mussorgsky’s work in 1922. The orchestration works so beautifully that it feels original.
The recording from the Musikverein is taken from live performances in April, 2016. It sparkles and has real power when needed -- listen to the Catacombs -- four instruments (low brass) at full tilt. The effect is mesmerizing.
Delicacy as found in Tuileries is almost tactile. The famous acoustic of the Musikverein really works in this recording.
The Bydlo oxcart suitably plods and has a huge crescendo, the muted trumpets play to great effect in Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle and with massive weight to the tutti strings, and the Great Gate of Kiev is both celebratory and a suitable finale.
The 'fillers' are interesting and equally well played. There are lots of recordings of Pictures. But you'll be hard pressed to find one as colourful, well played or superbly recorded as this new DG release.
Pictures at an Exhibition
Night on Bald Mountain
PETER ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY:
Waltz from Swan Lake
Int. Release 02 Dec. 2016
1 CD / Download
DG 479 6297
Total Time [50:51]