One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

TROUBADISC

Reger Violin Sonatas
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
Vivaldi
9 cello sonatas
Dussek
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!


Quite splendid


Winning performances


Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc


a huge talent


A wonderful disc


Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!


Roth’s finest Mahler yet


Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Availability

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures at an Exhibition (1874) [32:04]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Jeux d’eau (1901) [5:13]
Miroirs (1904-05): Alborada del gracioso [6:02]; La Vallée des cloches [5:56]
Rudolf Firkušný (piano)
rec. 1960
FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1077 [49:19]

Firkušný recorded Pictures at an Exhibition for DG in 1960, and it’s this – with the Ravel pieces – that’s been restored here. Fortunately this studio inscription has been augmented over recent years by live and broadcast material – notably the 1980 BBC recital (BBCL 4238-2) and one given in Salzburg in 1957 (Orfeo d’Or 633041). Temporally and interpretatively speaking it’s the Salzburg performance that is most consonant with this DG performance. It’s unusual to note that twenty years later, in London, the Czech pianist plays noticeably more quickly and more incisively.

Firkušný’s performance, rooted in colour, articulation, voice leading and precision, evinces a patrician understatement. Never a volcanic extrovert, and never one to meddle textually, his musical resolve is unbroken throughout. Thus he avoids extremes, and employs the pedal with deft circumspection, in a way that may frustrate those brought up on two of the totems of this repertoire, Horowitz and Richter, neither of whom could be accused of hiding their pianistic lights under bushels in this repertoire. Thus there’s no musico-bipolarity in Gnomus, the Promenades retain a refinement of spirit, The Old Castle is more scenic than eerie – no truly nagging left hand accents – and Bydlo doesn’t rock, roll, pitch and sag; rather it sways strongly but without caricature. The Market at Limoges is witty and playful, the Catacombs predictably not especially sepulchral. In Cum mortuis he is, inevitably perhaps, more interested in the pure musical mathematics of the play of colour and tone – and its congruity – than in anything more dramatic. Indeed he makes Pictures sound, for all its awkwardness, unusually pianistic. It’s a performance of scrupulous attention to detail without ever becoming forensic – somewhat reserved, but probing and without ostentation.

The coupling shows his devotion to, and mastery of, Ravel’s idiom. Jeux d’eau is a model of refinement and atmospheric colour, whilst the two pieces taken from Miroirs show comparable virtues. Alborada del gracioso is beautifully textured, and rhythmically vivacious, whilst La Vallée des cloches – taken a minute slower than Gieseking’s famous old recording – is in no way inferior to that performance, simply demarcating a different expressive response.

The excellent transfers come without notes. Admirers of the great Czech pianist will welcome this restoration.

Jonathan Woolf
 


 

 



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger