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Published on Mar 8, 2009
Promenade, 5. Ballet of Unhatched Chicks, 6. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle
This is the third part of Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition (Картинки с выставки Воспоминание о Викторе Гартмане), played by British virtuoso Jonathan Plowright. It was recorded live at the Wigmore Hall, London on Saturday 15th November 2008. The performance has been divided into 5 parts for presentation on YouTube.
Svyatoslav Richter has called Pictures at an Exhibition "the most profound Russian piano composition".
Ed Keohane writes: "Modest Mussorgsky was one of the Mighty Handful, a group of five composers who wished to write music true to the culture of Russia. He was born in 1839 to a wealthy father and a musical mother, who taught him piano from the age of six. Mussorgsky went on to study in St Petersburg, before enrolling in cadet school to prepare him for a career as an army officer. All this time he had been writing music, but it was his friendship with another young army officer, César Cui, that led to his introduction to Mili Balakirev, who soon began teaching Mussorgsky composition.
At the beginning of 1874 his most famous opera, Boris Godunov, received its premiere at the Mariinsky Theatre. Despite its success with the public, Mussorgsky was dismayed by the critical reviews and traditionally this year is believed to mark a decline in his musical output. This view is completely at odds with the music that he was producing, however, which includes two song cycles Sunless, and Songs and Dances of Death and much of his great opera Khovanshchina. Indeed in the first three weeks of June 1874 he wrote the piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition, now often heard in Ravels orchestral arrangement.
The work was a tribute to his friend Viktor Hartmann, who had died unexpectedly the previous year, and coincided with a commemorative exhibition of the artists works, ten of which are depicted by the composer. Mussorgsky died of alcoholism in 1881 and the suite was not published in his lifetime. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov heavily edited it for publication in 1886, but it is heard here in its original form as reconstituted in 1931, more than 50 years after the work was composed.