Pure Mussorgsky | Berlin Classics 0300568BC

Pure Mussorgsky

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Label: Berlin Classics

Cat No: 0300568BC

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 22nd September 2014



Elena Pankratova (soprano)
Andrej Hoteev (piano)


Mussorgsky, Modest

Pictures at an Exhibition
Songs and Dances of Death


Elena Pankratova (soprano)
Andrej Hoteev (piano)


March 2014 marked the 175th birthday of Modest Mussorgsky, yet to this day we have not heard his music as he actually wrote it. Well-meaning colleagues and publishers who believed the compositions of the "brilliant amateur" contained many "mistakes" and clumsy turns, and decided they were doing him a favour by improving them. Furthermore, flawed Russian reproductions of the composer's manuscripts in facsimile editions have over the years contributed to the number of mistakes. This fact remained long undiscovered because, although the original manuscripts were kept in Russian libraries, access to them was and remains extremely difficult.

Since his discovery of the original, unadulterated score of Tchaikovsky's 3rd Piano Concerto, the Russian pianist Andrej Hoteev has made a name for himself as someone who goes to the heart of the matter. He therefore took an opportunity that came out of the blue to view Mussorgsky's original scores and found just what he was looking for: both in Pictures at an Exhibition and Songs and Dances of Death he found numerous discrepancies compared with conventional sheet music editions (more than 60 such variations in each of the four songs alone) that really changed the very essence of the music.

The present recording of both works, which the pianist has recorded together with the Russian singer Elena Pankratova, finally unveils the unconventional, unspoilt music that the composer originally intended. The  most important deviations are clearly documented with the use of illustrations from the manuscripts in the accompanying CD booklet.

One more point worth mentioning is the fact that the songs are sung in the keys Mussorgsky intended, and not transposed, as is so often the case. Fortunately, Elena Pankratova has a wide vocal range that encompasses both the soprano and mezzo registers. These songs were written for a voice such as hers and they can be heard in this recording in the keys and with the requisite expression that such a versatile voice can produce, just as the composer intended.

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