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  Mercury Living Presence
  475 6620
  Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition - Janis/Dorati
  Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Mussorgsky-Ravel: Pictures at an Exhibition, Chopin: Étude in F major, Waltz in A minor

Byron Janis (piano)
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra
Antal Dorati (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 3

Review by Ivymike January 9, 2006 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
If you already have original, redbook release of this compilation I would recommend against purchasing this SACD. The performances, of course, will not be improved (and there are far better ones) and you are unlikely to notice any significant improvement in sound quality.

A quick note: there is a printing error in the track listings that claims both the original piano version of "Pictures" and the orchestral version both clock in at eleven mintues, thirty-three seconds. This is totally incorrect. They do not run the same time and both are over thirty minutes in length.

The real reason to own this disc will likely be to have Byron Janis' interpretation of Mussorgsky's original version for piano. If you've not heard this original version you may be surprised by its naked, almost clattery leanness--the piano is used very percussively much of the time and the resulting sound is spare and harsh; most effective. The recording, taped in 1961 in Bob Fine's New York studio is, if you'll forgive the terrible joke, just fine. A bit thin on top, but then that's pretty much par for the course on the Mercury label and fans will be ready for it. Those Telefunken 201 mics were a bit harsh on top...

The orchestral version as performed by the Minnesota Orchestra under Antal Dorati is not among the best available or even among the second best. For better interpretations try the following:
the Reiner/CSO reading, taped 1957, on RCA Living Stereo SACD #82876-61394-2; the Maazel/Cleveland Orchestra reading, taped 1978, on Telarc SACD-60042; or the Von Karajan/BPO reading, taped 1966, on Deutsche Grammophon #429 162-2. All have far better sound and are better readings. The sound, transfered from the half-inch, three-track master tape recorded in April, 1959 suffers terribly from the dreadful acoustic of Northrop Hall: dry, thin, emasculated. A big orchestral work like this one needs a good sense of hall and "bloom"; Northrop's dead acoustic robs it almost entirely of the necessary atmosphere. Low bass, so necessary in some of the pictures, is hurt badly with the exception of the final picture where things do come off pretty well. There isn't much sense of front/back depth, either, usually a Mercury stong point. Tape hiss, as on most of the Mercury half-inch transfers, is moderate in level and noticeable during quieter moments. There are some rather awkward tape splices toward the end of the work as well and the whole thing is a disappointment.

I regret having made this purchase. My original redbook CD sounds the same. If you own that release you may not want to spring for this one. Try one of the others.

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Review by boguspomp December 10, 2005 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Great recording in both performance and sound. Interesting to notice, that both performances of the Pictures, the solo piano as well as the orchestra version are precisely 11.33 mins.
This said doesn't give a clue how much the two performances differ. The orchestral version is played very well, although I miss a little the last bit of power, that one can hear/feel in Reiners Living Stereo performance.
The solo piano treats several parts so differently than the orchestration does, that it was a brand new experience to listen to the Pictures in its original form. Very nice played by Byron Janis and the Piano sound is also perfectly captured.

This SA-CD gets full recommendation in sound and performance

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Review by dead_man_surfing October 25, 2005 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Be careful: this is a 3 - channel Hybrid Stereo SACD, no surround ! But both parts, the piano version and the orchestral version are very impressive. Regarding the age of the taping it is amazing what possibilities we have today. Honestly i was disappointed at first because i never heard about 3 channel stereo before, but especially the orchestral part is worth to hear.


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Works: 3  

Frederic Chopin - Waltz in A minor, Op. 34 No. 2 "Valse brillante"
Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition
Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel)