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Having downloaded Karajan's lovely version of 'Pictures' on this site (pls do check that out too), I also decided to invest in this possibly even more persuasive recording. I have known this for many years, but a major selling point here imo is that there are only two longer tracks for the whole of the Mussorgsky work - and here's a request to all record companies who release recordings of longer works, eg. opera. Please. Don't. Over. Track. Access. Points. Thank you HDTT for this approach, even if on other versions from you each 'Picture' may be accessed separately. Szell's version is magnificent from the most handsome trumpet opening onwards (I assume Szell's section principal Bernard Adelstein is the player). Weighty strings. All round excellence. The Liadov? - A 19th century, easily approachable Russian picture in sound, a bit like a Kalinnikov symphony slow movement or Mussorgsky opera interlude. Lovely. I don't want to add more as other reviewers' comments would end up being repeated. Don't forget Reiner's equally fabulous version, also available from this site. Top recommendation.
Extremely happy with this performance/encoding of Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra's playing Pictures At An Exhibition.
Mussorgsky. It’s like Geoge Szell had given you his place at the podium. The instruments are in their proper position over a 180º arch from your left to your right. From the introduction, you feel the orchestra has the intention to go forward. The pace is pretty fast, but not too much. When the brasses play you see them in the back, in an elevated position. The woodwinds in the center are closer and the mass of the violins is well balanced with the heavier strings on the right, the double basses at the extreme. To have a good idea of the sound of the center section, listen to #5 Ballet Des Poussins. At the beginning of Part II, you can appreciate the balance of the strings, with those on the right always present, not eaten up by the mass of violins. After a few seconds the trumpet gives further depth to the scene. You hear its sound coming from the back of the orchestra, raised over the other instruments. The scene is very dynamic, the sound volume goes all the way up skirting the limit of saturation a couple of times. A very beautiful recording with no flaws. It gives you a real taste of the instruments quality and weight. A great interpretation, made of well closed musical phrases, that takes you from the beginning to the end in one single well paced sentence. Liadov. The strings on the right and the harp on the left, open the view over the lake, creating immediately a sense of vastness and profundity. Every section of instruments enters very delicately, populating the lake of details. You see every instrument in its precise location, the bass drum on the left, is played very, very softly. To the end, soft and distant horns introduce to the finale, to a vision that disappears. PB
Good, Thank you.
George Szell's successor Christoph von Dohnányi once remarked that Szell continues to get good reviews even though he died in 1970! This one is no exception. Szell approaches the work with a lighter hand than some other conductors, but the precision of the Cleveland Orchestra and Szell's style make for an enjoyable performance. Epic LPs from the 1960s often had limited dynamic range and some idiomatic equalisation, but the tape transfer is free of these.
Title: Mussorgsky Pictures At An Exhibition - Liadov The Enchanted Lake
Artist(s): George Szell conducts the Cleveland Orchestra
Recording Info: Recorded 1963 Severance Hall Cleveland
Recorded by Epic records (Columbia)
1. Part I 15:30
The Old Castle
Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells
2. Part II 15:50
Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
Limoges, the Market Place
Catacombs (Roman Sepulchre)
Con mortuis in lingua mortua
The Hut on Fowls' Legs
The Great Gate at Kiev
3. The Enchanted Lake, Op. 62 (Legend for Orchestra) 6:07