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  PentaTone Classics -
  PTC 5186 332
  Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition - Ponti
  Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, A Night on the Bare Mountain

Russian National Orchestra
Carlo Ponti (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 3

Site review by Polly Nomial January 19, 2009
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Review by lenny February 15, 2009 (8 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Fantastic performance by the Russian National Orchestra and their talented conductor ! All selections on this disc are prodigiously well interpreted and performed. This cd features some the best interpretations of these seminal works I have ever heard and the competition out there is truly heavy : karajan, abbado, jarvi; this cd stands up to the best and even goes further in quality than most recordings (I have 8 of 'Pictures' alone !).
Ponti brings to life every picture in Mussorgsky's masterwork with incredible clarity and commitment : the Promenades revel in lush string and brass sounds, Gnomus is exciting and fantastically performed by the Russian musicians, Bydlo's percussions are mesmerizing when they reach the climax, woodwinds sparkle in Ballet of the Chicks and Limoges and the whole orchestra makes the Great Gate of Kiev sound as impressive as seeing the actual gate itself.
Night on Bare Mountain seems to follow in the footsteps of conductors Leonard Bernstein and Andre Cluytens in its bold approach to tempi and raw execution of the percussive material. Also, Ponti never allows the brass and percussions to overpower the strings, as is often the case in other recordings of this work.
The other tracks in the cd are equally outstanding. The Introduction to the Sorochinsky Fair is a masterpiece of restraint and emotion with some of the most committed playing featured on the recording, while the Prelude to Khovanshchina is the cleanest I have ever heard in terms of intonation of the winds and directness of attack by the strings, resulting in precise ensemble playing and an unprecedented transparency of texture. The Dance of the Persian Slave girls could have used a little more creativity with the approach with tempi but on the whole I feel it is an exciting way to close the program on the cd, especially after the virtuostic and
technically flawless coda which is so difficult to pull off, even with a top-tier orchestra. Ponti and his Russians make it sound like child's play !
All in all, I recommend this SACD to anyone interested in purchasing a high quality recording which shines on every aspect : interpretation, performance and masterful engineering by PentaTone classics; a must-have for any serious collector !

Lenny Bryant (c.2009),

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Review by threerandot March 25, 2010 (6 of 10 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Some may quibble about this disc, but overall it is an exciting and unique performance of this warhorse. I find Carlo's approach to be a fresh and new and takes Mussorgsky masterpiece in a new direction. I get a sense of delaying and holding back for the big climaxes at the end. Also, listen for those marvellous RNO horns. With a warm recording and Ponti's control, this makes for a very good addition to the existing versions of Pictures. The Night on The Bare Mountain is also very good.

For me, the special surprise on this disc is the enchanting and gorgeous performance of the Introduction from the Sorochinsky's Fair with pastoral oboes and wonderful orchestral colors. The Prelude and Dance of the Persian Slave Girls do not disappoint either. Colorful, ethereal and simply enjoyable, these make for wondeful fill-ups on this disc.

It's very hard for me to fault this disc on many levels. Sure Ponti is perhaps not the strongest conductor of the Pictures, but I have gotten much pleasure out of this disc, and after the excitement and energy of Pictures and Night, the remaining works are simply enchanting and will take you away to who knows where.

The sound is first rate Pentatone with no harshness at all, full, rich and warm with wonderful depth and color. An excellent disc that deserves more praise and I am glad I added this to my collection. I will be spinning this many times over the years I think.

(This review refers only to the Multichannel portion of this disc.)

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Works: 2  

Modest Mussorgsky - A Night on the Bare Mountain
Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition (arr. Ravel)