A few of the thoughts that flash through the pianist’s consciousness strolling through Mussorgsky’s great exhibition.

A  few months ago, I had the opportunity to record one of classical music’s most hallowed. I tend to shy away from writing what great art is ‘about’, but Pictures is itself a monumental retelling and reframing of art. So here are some of the images that pass through my mind during a performance:

Promenade“Come with me,” Mussorgsky says. You can hear the great man’s corpulent frame trudging along. However, today is different – he is unusually fleet footed. As in the theatre, the fourth wall is dismissed. Mussorgsky composes in real time, revealing humans as both the subjects and objects of art.

GnomusTrue masters capture the visual with the intervallic. The opening motif is diminished, tonality is trying to choke us. Here is a monster with maleficent intentions, but where does humour end and malice begin? The gnome scurries and then skulks, ending with a tarantulaic dash to E Flat Minor.

PromenadeOur fear is short lived, for Mussorgsky has somewhere else to take us, only this time in a calmer A Flat Major.

The Old CastleIn...

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