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CD Review

Modest Mussorgsky

Pictures at an Exhibition

Oleg Marshev, piano
Odense Symphony Orchestra/Jan Wagner
Danacord DACOCD656 70m DDD
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Only a few weeks ago, I was indulging in a long forgotten Decca LP with Mussorgsky's "Pictures" played by the great Vladimir Ashkenazy and with the orchestral version conducted by Zubin Mehta featuring the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. This freshly minted version on Danacord features another fantastic pianist in the shape of Oleg Marshev who really gets to the heart of the matter in the solo piano version.

Marshev's playing is as daredevil as we have now come to expect from his fingers and he brings an almost hair raising characterization to pieces such as "Bydlo", "Catacombae" and "La Grande Porte di Kiev". Although the market is absolutely flooded with several excellent versions of this work, newcomers will do no harm in investing in this version.

Wagner's interpretation of the Maurice Ravel orchestration is a different matter as here the playing does not rise to exalted heights and to be frank, there are a myriad of far better versions to choose from. However the orchestral characterization is adequate enough and with Marshev's version in tow, one can make exceptions.

Danacord's recording is excellent in all departments, be it just the solo piano or the massive full orchestra. With notes by Malcolm Macdonald who goes into fastidious detail regarding this evergreen work, this new issue is certainly desirable for Marshev's superb playing.

Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech