There's nothing unusual about British pianist Peter Donohoe's pairing of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition with Ravel's Miroirs; the two works are landmarks of the virtuoso repertory and are further linked by Ravel's orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition, known to listeners with even a casual interest in classical music. Donohoe succeeds, however, in delivering an unusual reading of Pictures, which has been posthumously shaped by the Ravel version. He aims at restraint and detail; you might say his playing represents the paintings named in the work's title, rather than the Great Gate of Kiev itself, and the other subjects. Donohoe is aided in his quest by sterling technique that separates the registers of the piano to an unusual degree, with particularly ringing notes at the top of the piano's range. This is all to the good in Miroirs, for which you can find more energetic versions but few in which each note emerges with such distinctness. It's a reading the the legions of student pianists who tackle the work each year might do well to explore thoroughly. Cantéyodjayâ, one of Olivier Messiaen's experiments in Indian musical rhythms, is a bit less successful, and it also doesn't make a persuasive case for its presence on this program. But Signum's engineering work, from Cedars Hall at the Wells Cathedral School, is a major attraction, matching Donohoe's careful craft. This is perhaps a British rather than a Russian Pictures at an Exhibition, and it may not be to all tastes. But it's certainly recommended to those wanting a deeper consideration of the work.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Pictures at an Exhibition|