Notes and Editorial Reviews
Pictures at an Exhibition. Pictures at an Exhibition:
On the Southern Shore of the Crimea. Near the Southern Shore of the Crimea. Meditation. A Tear. In the Village
Lars David Kellner (pn)
ENHARMONIC ENCD11-19 (62:15)
It’s hardly worth pointing out that any new recording of
faces formidable competition. And there’s
probably no one who knows that better than the producer of this CD,
colleague David DeBoor Canfield; according to his notes, he had, as of May 2010, personally collected “some 1,100 different performances of more than 400 different arrangements” of Mussorgsky’s most popular score. So, as he himself asks, “Why yet another one?” The question is even more pointed, given that Lars David Kellner, who divides his time between music and medicine, is hardly a familiar pianist.
Most immediately, this recording stands out for its inclusion of an earlier version of “Gnomus,” slightly longer and quirkier, both in harmony and shape, than the revision we all know. In itself, though, that wouldn’t be enough to compensate for a midlevel performance. Fortunately, Kellner offers something well above the norm: a bold, sharply, and imaginatively articulated reading that heightens the music’s dissonances and idiosyncratic gestures. Is it as individualistic as Horowitz’s reading or as consistently insightful as Richter’s canonical Sofia account? No—but Kellner, armed with a solid technique, offers imaginative articulation, illuminating voicing, and an excellent ability to shape phrases through dynamic shading. The performance is consequently full of delights. The subtle handling of the tolling bass line of “The Old Castle”; the brilliant handling of the swerves of “Tuileries” (he negotiates the shift from 16th notes to eighth notes in measure 8 with the grace of an expert ice-skater); the steely reading of “Baba Yaga”: Even those who know the score well with find plenty to admire here.
Kellner is just as effective in his attentive performances of the less-familiar short works that fill out the disc; listen, for instance, to how artfully he captures the strangeness of the outer sections of
On the Southern Shore of the Crimea
or how well he snaps out the rhythms of the folksy B section that separates them. Even
is delivered with a focus that counteracts the music’s underlying (and uncharacteristic) dippiness. Good sound, extremely informative notes, too. Strongly recommended.
FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
Works on This Recording
Au village by Modest Mussorgsky
Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Written: ?1880; Russia
A Tear by Modest Mussorgsky
Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Written: 1880; Russia
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