Two of the greatest orchestral showpieces appear on this 2013 release from Zig-Zag Territoires, played with extraordinary vitality and sensational color by Emmanuel Krivine and the Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, in the brilliant orchestration by Maurice Ravel, opens the program with vibrant musical interpretations of paintings by the composer's friend, Viktor Hartmann. While there are other orchestral versions of this piece, which was originally composed for piano, Ravel's arrangement has become the most enduring, and this performance demonstrates the full palette of tone colors and the extraordinary instrumental effects that make it a crowd pleaser. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's four-part tone poem Scheherazade is another tour de force, and even though this popular Romantic score may not seem as novel or piquant as Pictures, it is still a model of orchestration and is beloved for its sumptuous melodies and stirring depiction of scenes from the Arabian Nights. The responsive studio recording in the Luxemburg Philharmonic's hall is clean, fully present, and highly focused, so every note is easy to hear, though the dynamics have such a wide range, listeners may need to adjust the volume level.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Pictures at an Exhibition|