Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps; Mussorgsky: Tableaux d'une exposition

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Pentaèdre's 2013 release on ATMA Classique showcases wind quintet arrangements of two Russian orchestral favorites, Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. The arrangement by Michael Byerly of Rite of Spring is an interesting deconstruction of the complex score, and it gets the bare bones of the piece across without being incoherent. However, the choices based on Stravinsky's woodwind parts are most viable, while the missing parts for strings and percussion are all too noticeable and seem like gaping holes in the music, impossible to conceal. Stéphane Mooser's arrangement of Mussorgsky's Pictures works much better, in part because of the music's many chorale-like passages, and also because of the familiarity of the woodwind passages in the orchestral version by Maurice Ravel. While wind quintets will welcome these arrangements as an expansion of the repertoire, listeners may find that Pictures at an Exhibition is more enjoyable than the sparse reduction of the Rite of Spring.

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