Overture Magazine: 2017-2018 Season January-February 2018 - Page 36

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION
five contrasting variations . These range from fast virtuoso outings for the piano to a slow , mysterious reverie by the soloist over light woodwind and string accompaniment . The quiet conclusion of this movement is especially intriguing .
The finale is a mixture of rhythmic drive and soaring lyricism . It is dominated by some of the most relentlessly difficult piano writing ever devised . But relief comes in the big central lyrical section , featuring one of Prokofiev ’ s signature high-arcing melodies tossed from woodwinds to violins . The drive to the finish ranks among the most exciting in the concerto literature , with virtuosity , speed , and pitch all raised to the very zenith .
Instrumentation : Two flutes including piccolo , two oboes , two clarinets , two bassoons , four horns , two trumpets , three trombones , timpani , percussion and strings .
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION
Modest Mussorgsky ( arr . Maurice Ravel )
Born in Karevo , Ukraine , March 21 , 1839 ; died in St . Petersburg , Russia , March 28 , 1881
When one of his closest friends , the artist and architect Victor Hartman , died at age 39 in 1873 , a devastated Modest Mussorgsky helped organize an exhibition of Hartman ’ s paintings . He then decided to “ draw in music ” ( his words ) ten of them in a work for solo piano that he composed rapidly during June 1874 . Apparently , he had no plans to orchestrate his Pictures at an Exhibition , and the work was not even published until after his death . It remained little known outside of Russia .
All this changed in 1922 when Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky commissioned Maurice Ravel , one of the greatest orchestrators of the 20 th century , to score Pictures for his Paris ensemble . Working with respect for Mussorgsky ’ s music , Ravel created a masterpiece in a new genre , in which uncommon instruments like the tuba , alto saxophone and celesta enrich a glowing orchestral canvas . Several other composers have subsequently produced orchestrations of Pictures , but Ravel ’ s remains the touchstone .
The following movement descriptions draw on the words of Russian art critic Vladimir Stassov , friend to both Hartman and Mussorgsky :
Promenade : Mussorgsky depicts “ himself … as he strolled through the exhibition , joyfully or sadly recalling the talented deceased artist … he does not hurry , but observes attentively .” This music returns throughout the piece as a linking device , changing to reflect the composer ’ s different responses to the pictures . By 1874 , Mussorgsky had grown fat , and we hear this in the music ’ s stately , lumbering gait .
Gnomus : “ A fantastic lame figure on crooked little legs .… This gnome is a child ’ s toy , fashioned , after Hartman ’ s design , in wood for the Christmas tree … in the style of the nutcracker , the nuts being inserted in the gnome ’ s mouth .… The gnome accompanies his droll movements with savage shrieks .”
The Old Castle : This is a sketch of a medieval Italian castle ; a troubadour is singing in the foreground . Above the strumming of the guitar , the alto saxophone with a bassoon partner sings the troubadour ’ s song .
Tuileries : Stassov wrote that this highspirited episode is based on a picture of children playing with their nurse in Paris ’ Tuileries Gardens .
Bydlo : This melancholy piece , featuring solo tuba , portrays a heavy Polish ox-drawn wagon . Low strings and bassoons depict the groaning of its wheels . Mussorgsky intended this to begin loudly , but Ravel gradually builds the volume , then lets it fade as the wagon rumbles toward us , then moves away .
Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks : “ In 1870 , Hartman designed the costumes … for the ballet Trilbi at the Maryinsky Theatre .… In the cast were a number of boy and girl pupils … arrayed as canaries . Others were dressed up as eggs .” Hartman ’ s sketches in which the children ’ s arms and legs protrude from the egg shells inspired this chirping piece of high woodwinds and celesta . Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuÿle : “ Victor Hartman gave Mussorgsky two of his sketches from real life , those of the rich and the poor Jew ” from Sandimir , Poland . Mussorgsky named the two and richly characterized the haughty rich man ( in low unison strings and winds ) Goldenberg dismissing the whining pleas ( muted trumpet solo ) of the poor Schmuÿle .
Limoges : The Market : “ Old women quarreling at the market in Limoges .”
Catacombs and With the Dead in a Dead Language : In the solemn tones of low brass , this bursts immediately from Limoges . Hartman ’ s picture shows the artist , a friend and a guide examining the Paris catacombs by lamplight .
Baba-Yaga : The Hut on Hen ' s Legs : Powerful and grotesque , “ this piece is based on Hartman ’ s design for a clock in the form of Baba-Yaga ’ s hut on hen ’ s legs , to which Mussorgsky added the ride of the witch in her mortar .” Baba-Yaga is a Russian fairytale witch who lures children into the woods , eats them , then crushes their bones in a giant mortar in which she rides through the woods . Baba-Yaga soars upward into …
The Great Gate of Kiev : The grand finale , based on the “ Promenade ” music , depicts Hartman ’ s competition design for a ceremonial arch in Kiev to commemorate Tsar Alexander II ’ s escape from an assassination attempt .
It is “ in the massive old Russian style in the form of a Slavonic helmet .” Kiev is the historic seat of Russian orthodoxy ; Mussorgsky incorporates a Russian orthodox hymn-tune sung by the woodwinds . Ringing with church bells and brass fanfares , the work climaxes in a blaze of Slavic glory .
Instrumentation : Three flutes including two piccolos , three oboes including English horn , two clarinets , bass clarinet , two bassoons , contrabassoon , alto saxophone , four horns , three trumpets , three trombones , tenor tuba , tuba , timpani , percussion , two harps , celesta and strings .
Notes by Janet E . Bedell , © 2018
34 OVERTURE / BSOmusic . org
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION five contrasting variations. These range from fast virtuoso outings for the piano to a slow, mysterious reverie by the soloist over light woodwind and string accompaniment. The quiet conclusion of this movement is especially intriguing. The finale is a mixture of rhythmic drive and soaring lyricism. It is dominated by some of the most relentlessly difficult piano writing ever devised. But relief comes in the big central lyrical section, featuring one of Prokofiev’s signature high-arcing melodies tossed from woodwinds to violins. The drive to the finish ranks among the most exciting in the concerto literature, with virtuosity, speed, and pitch all raised to the very zenith. Instrumentation: Two flutes including piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, percussion and strings. PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION Modest Mussorgsky (arr. Maurice Ravel) Born in Karevo, Ukraine, March 21, 1839; died in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 28, 1881 When one of his closest friends, the artist and architect Victor Hartman, died at age 39 in 1873, a devastated Modest Mussorgsky helped organize an exhibition of Hartman’s paintings. He then decided to “draw in music” (his words) ten of them in a work for solo piano that he composed rapidly during June 1874. Apparently, he had no plans to orchestrate his Pictures at an Exhibition, and the work was not even published until after his death. It remained little known outside of Russia. All this changed in 1922 when Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky commissioned Maurice Ravel, one of the greatest orchestrators of the 20 th century, to score Pictures for his Paris ensemble. Working with respect for Mussorgsky’s music, Ravel created a masterpiece in a new genre, in which uncommon instruments like the tuba, alto saxophone and celesta enrich a 34 OV E R T U R E / BSOmusic.org glowing orchestral canvas. Several other composers have subsequently produced orchestrations of Pictures, but Ravel’s remains the touchstone. The following movement descriptions draw on the words of Russian art critic Vladimir Stassov, friend to both Hartman and Mussorgsky: Promenade: Mussorgsky depicts “himself…as he strolled through the exhibition, joyfully or sadly recalling the talented deceased artist…he does not hurry, but observes attentively.” This music returns throughout the piece as a linking device, changing to reflect the composer’s different responses to the pictures. By 1874, Mussorgsky had grown fat, and we hear this in the music’s stately, lumbering gait. Gnomus: “A fantastic lame figure on crooked little legs.… This gnome is a child’s toy, fashioned, after Hartman’s design, in wood for the Christmas tree… in the style of the nutcracker, the nuts being inserted in the gnome’s mouth .…The gnome accompanies his droll movements with savage shrieks.” The Old Castle: This is a sketch of a medieval Italian castle; a troubadour is singing in the foreground. Above the strumming of the guitar, the alto saxophone with a bas ͽѹȁͥ)ѡɽՉˊéͽ)QեɥMхͽ؁ɽєѡЁѡ́)ɥѕͽ͕́ɔ)ɕ她ݥѠѡȁ͔Aɥϊd)Qեɥ́ɑ̸) 呱Q́)ɥͽՉɅ́)A͠൑Ʌݸ݅1܁ɥ)ͽ́Ёѡɽ)́ݡ̸5ͽɝͭ䁥ѕѡ)ѼՑ䰁ЁIٕɅՅ)ե́ѡٽյѡ́Ё)ѡ݅յ́ѽ݅ɐ̰ѡ)ٕ́݅) ЁѡUэ 胊q%(!ѵͥѡյϊ)ȁѡЁQɥЁѡ5她ͭ)Qɔ%ѡЁݕɔյ)䁅ɰϊɅ啐)ɥ̸=ѡ́ݕɔɕ͕)̻t!ѵéͭэ́ݡѡ)ɕéɵ́́ɽՑɽ)ѡ́͡ɕѡ́)ݽݥ́ф)MՕɜM+qYѽȁ!ѵٔ5ͽɝͭݼ)́ͭэ́ɽɕѡ͔ѡɥ)ѡȁ)ߊtɽMȰA)5ͽɝͭ䁹ѡݼɥ)Ʌѕɥ镐ѡ՝ɥ)܁չͽɥ́ݥ̤ɜ)͵ͥѡݡ̀ѕ)յЁͽѡȁM$)1Q5ɭ胊q=ݽ)ՅɕЁѡɭЁ1̻t) х́]Ѡѡ)1Յ%ѡͽѽ́)܁Ʌ̰ѡ́́ѕ䁙ɽ)1̸!ѵéɔ́͡ѡ)ѥаɥեᅵѡ)Aɥ́х́䁱и) eQ!Ё!́1)AݕəհɽѕՔqѡ́)͕!ѵéͥȁ)ѡɴ eéЁḛ́)Ѽݡ5ͽɝͭ䁅ѡɥ)ѡݥэȁхȻt é)Iͥхݥэݡɕ́ɕ)Ѽѡݽ̰́ѡѡ͡)ѡȁ́Ёхȁݡ͡)ɥ́ѡɽ՝ѡݽ̸ eͽ)݅ɐѿ)QɕЁє-QɅ)͕ѡqAɽtͥ)́!ѵéѥѥͥȁ)ɕɍ-؁ѼɅє)Qͅȁᅹȁ%'é͍ɽ)ͥͅѥѕи)%Ё̃qѡͥٔIͥ屔)ѡɴMٽлt-)́ѡѽɥ͕ЁIͥѡ)5ͽɝͭ䁥Ʌѕ́Iͥ)ѡ嵸չչѡ)ݽݥ̸IݥѠɍ)Ʌ́ɕ̰ѡݽɬ́)锁M٥)%յхѥQɕѕ́Ց)ݼ̰ѡɕ́Ց͠)ɸݼɥ̰́ɥаݼͽ̰)ɅͽѼͅȁɹ̰)ѡɕյ̰ѡɕɽ̰ѕ)ՉՉѥɍͥݼ̰)фɥ̸)9ѕ́)Ё Ā