Sinopoli's splendid recording of Pictures at an Exhibition makes the New York Philharmonic once more sound like a great international orchestra, as they did in the Bernstein era.
Sinopoli's new recording of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is quite splendid. He makes the New York Philharmonic once more sound like a great international orchestra, as they did in the Bernstein era. There is some hair-raising virtuosity (especially in the "Market Place at Limoges"), but also immediacy in the highly sophisticated orchestral detail in "Gnomus", which has the most precisely coordinated textural subtlety, yet is dramatically thrilling in its incisive rhythms. But it is the brass one notices most.Read more Clearly Sinopoli is in love with the brass effects in Ravel's scoring, especially the trombones and tuba. Indeed the tuba solo in "Bydlo" is wonderfully poetic, with the climax reinforced by powerful use of timpani.
The very opening "Promenade" shows the New York brass sonority here as special and their sforzando chordal entry at the beginning of "Catacombe" is rivetingly sinister, while in the bizarre "Baba-Yaga" the trombones and tuba again make some wonderfully fat and pungent sounds. The more delicate moments of the work are no less delectably done: the woodwind virtuosity in "Tuileries" is a delight, and the Unhatched chicks cheep piquantly. I must also mention the slow, gentle saxophone solo in "The old castle", which has a touchingly tender nostalgia. No less striking is the dialogue between the sonorous bass line of Samuel Goldenberg, which somehow is made to sound Hebrew in feeling, and the bleating trumpet of Schmuyle. In the closing "Great Gate at Kiev" Sinopoli goes for grandeur and dignity rather than unbuttoned excitement, with the bell tolling in the final section very effectively, making the music sound indelibly Russian in feeling. This is, overall, a marvellous performance, full of new things to discover in Ravel's fastidiously imaginative scoring.
A night on the Bare Mountain is done with considerable flair too (the Rimskian fanfare sequence particularly arresting), but some will find Valses nobles et sentimentales too idiosyncratic at the end, even though it is superbly played. At the beginning Sinopoli is attractively genial in his rhythmic impetus, rather than seeking to overwhelm the listener, but in the last three sections (tracks 22– 24) he takes Ravel's marking—Assez vif—Moins vif—Lent to an extreme, the music almost coming to a halt in the middle of the Moins vif. Yet the delicacy of the playing and the sensuous radiance of the texture reminds one of Ma mere l'oye, and it is only too easy to be seduced.
The recordings were made in New York's Manhattan Center, which DG have used before for the smaller Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The producer, Wolfgang Stengel, and the balance engineer, Klaus Hiemann, are to be congratulated on the results, particularly in the Pictures; they have their microphones in exactly the right place. The orchestral tuttis are thrillingly expansive, but clear internally, the brass sounds are wonderful and although at times there is a dominance of this section, the overall balance is so convincing that one accepts this ultimately as Sinopoli's Intention.
Night on the Bare Mountainby Modest Mussorgsky Conductor:
New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic Written: 1866; Russia Date of Recording: 12/1989 Venue: Manhattan Center, New York City Length: 11 Minutes 17 Secs. Notes: Orchestrated: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1886)
Valses nobles et sentimentalesby Maurice Ravel Conductor:
New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century Written: 1911; France Date of Recording: 12/1989 Venue: Manhattan Center, New York City Length: 18 Minutes 57 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Fine Music with excellent informationJune 29, 2014By Lawrence R C. (Berkeley, CA)See All My Reviews"The music is excellent and the included pamphlet gives details about the history of the Pictures composition and the names of the pictures described in the music. The music and the exhibition are both memorials."Report Abuse