I have heard many of Paul Lewis’ recordings and enjoyed them a lot. In particular I love his interpretation of the music of Franz Schubert.
On this recording, Paul Lewis performs two major works of the keyboard repertoire. Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ is more commonly heard today in Ravel‘s orchestral version. However, the original for solo piano is an amazing example of the composer’s coloristic style.
The second work on this CD is Schumann‘s ‘Fantasie’ Op.17, a work whose movements originally had titles such as ‘Ruin’, ‘Triumphal Arch’, and ‘Constellation’. These ‘program’ titles were later removed before publication, but the ‘pictures’, which Schumann intended listeners to imagine, remain.
The selection titles are:
- Pictures at an Exhibition (piano version)
- Fantasie in C major, Op. 17
Performed by Paul Lewis, piano.
In 1870, the architect, sculptor and painter Viktor Hartmann (born in 1834) was invited to join the ‘Group of Five’, a circle of composers that wanted to establish national Russian music free of western influences.
Just three years later, Hartmann died, yet he was not yet 40 years old. The other members wanted to set up a memorial exhibition in honor of this artist.
In the spring of 1874 the exhibition opened, which presented some 400 pictures from different phases of the artist’s creative career. Mussorgsky, as one of the members, decided to erect a musical monument to the dead man as well.
When the Mussorgsky ‘Pictures’ were completed, the manuscript bore the inscription: ‘Dedicated to Vladimir Vasilievich Stasov, Pictures at an Exhibition. In Memory of Viktor Hartmann.’
This is music with a huge emotional scope, which ranges from a “Ballet of Chicks in their Egg Shells” to the image of “The great Gate at Kiev”.
I was unable to locate a video of Paul Lewis playing the Mussorgsky. Here, instead, is Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ as performed by Mikhail Pletnev:
And next, here is Paul Lewis performing the Franz Schubert Impromptu no. 2, D935:
Tags: Paul Lewis, Schumann, Mussorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition’, Mikhail Pletnev, Fantasie in C major, Viktor Hartmann