Notes and Editorial Reviews
Jansons's EMI Mussorgsky concert was recorded in the Oslo Konserthus, the same hall where Chandos recorded his highly successful set of Tchaikovsky symphonies, but the EMI sound has noticeably more digital brilliance. Indeed, it is very brightly lit, and although detail is crystal clear I found the effect rather fierce at fortissimo level; moreover the bass end of the spectrum is slightly dry and there is comparatively little feeling of sumptuousness. This lends a dramatic bite to the performance, so that after the strongly projected brass introduction, the opening "Gnomus" is given a malignant grotesquerie to anticipate the rhythmic force of the later "Baba-Yaga". The "Ballet of the unhatched chicks" has vivid
presence and the pictures of the "Tuileries" and the "Market Place at Limoges" (helped by clean orchestral articulation) are stereoscopically sharp in detail, while the potent atmosphere of the "Catacombes" is emphasized by the dark sonorities of the brass. Not surprisingly, Jansons builds an impressive climax for "The Great Gate of Kiev" and the recording expands excitingly to take the full weight of the closing pages.
A night on the Bare Mountain is given a strong, pungent performance, its elemental diabolism well conveyed, but the part of this concert that I enjoyed most was the beautifully played Khovanshchina Prelude with its haunting evocation of dawn over the Moscow River, the sinuous basic melody reminding us that the sun rises in the East. After a passionate climax Jansons manages Rimsky's delicately scored closing section quite magically.
-- Gramophone [1/1990]
Works on This Recording
Night on the Bare Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1866; Russia
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