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Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibtion / Lars David Kellner

Mussorgsky / Kellner
Release Date: 10/11/2011 
Label:  Enharmonic Records   Catalog #: 19   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MUSSORGSKY Pictures at an Exhibition. Pictures at an Exhibition: Gnomus (original version). 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 Pictures faces formidable competition. And there’s Read more probably no one who knows that better than the producer of this CD, Fanfare 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 A Tear 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
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Works on This Recording

1. Pictures at an exhibition: no 2, The Gnome by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
2. On the southern shore of the Crimea by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
3. Near the southern shore of the Crimea by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; Russia 
4. Au village by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1880; Russia 
5. A Tear by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Russia 
6. Pictures at an Exhibition for Piano by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Lars David Kellner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 

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