Fans of Valery Gergiev and his robust interpretations of Russian classics will be enthralled by this hybrid SACD of music by Modest Mussorgsky, a 2015 release on the Mariinsky label. Recorded in direct stream digital and presented in the multichannel format, the performances by the Mariinsky Orchestra have great depth and clear separation of parts. Gergiev takes pains to give Ravel's marvelous orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition the most transparent textures and skillfully uses dynamics and shadings of tone to heighten the timbres, especially of the low woodwinds and brass. In Songs & Dances of Death, bass Ferruccio Furlanetto sings with remarkable emotional range and a rich and resonant voice, and while the orchestra pulls back to give him center stage, it nonetheless brings across the fine details of Shostakovich's arrangement. The concluding work is Mussorgsky's original version of Night on Bare Mountain, which is seldom heard yet is arguably more interesting and exciting than any of the other versions available. Gergiev emphasizes the piece's eccentricity and inspires the orchestra to play with bold colors and high energy, so the performance is a brilliant revelation of Mussorgsky's idiosyncratic yet effective orchestration.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Pictures at an Exhibition|
|Songs and Dances of Death|