|Review||by Uncle Dave Lewis|
It is a little surprising that Telarc decided to go with the Vadim Repin portrait of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky for its recording of Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphonyin his best-known orchestral works. Painted as Mussorgsky lay dying in a St. Petersburg hospital, it captured the composer at his most dissolute and chaotic, but as it remains the most famous image of Mussorgsky among the limited amount of iconography left for him, perhaps its use was a foregone conclusion. It certainly does not reflect the vision of the music that's inside. This is Mussorgsky at its most pristine, cohesive, and well-tailored; a little like the photographic portrait, with his beard trimmed and waxed moustache turned up at its sides, that Mussorgsky might have preferred as the image we keep of him in our minds. Järvi opts for the standard Rimsky-Korsakov scores of Night on Bald Mountain and the prelude "Dawn on the Moscow River" from Khovantschina, but introduces a little twist inRavel's orchestration of Pictures at an Exhibition in that the original French published edition of 1929 is consulted for correction of errors and specifics on phrasing and dynamics. A whole industry of activity has grown up around Mussorgsky's scores, not to mentionRimsky-Korsakov's and others' alleged meddling with them, resulting in a donnybrook that has raged pro and con among musicologists and performers alike for decades. Nevertheless, amid all of that confusion, no one else thought to go back and review the familiar Ravelscore, and there is every reason to. It has been a public domain score, at least in the United States, for decades. Practically every orchestra has a copy filled with markings and changes of various kinds even beyond errors stemming from the original prints themselves.