Thursday 18 June 2009

To Jacques Samuel Pianos last night for a lecture recital on Mussorgsky's Pictures at an exhibition. It was given by pianist Bobby Chen and artist Geraldine van Heemstra. Geraldine van Heemstra traced the history of the work and illustrated the story with reproductions of surviving Victor Hartman drawing. As remarkably few of these survive (there were some 400 in the commemorative exhibition which inspired Mussorgsky's piano piece), Geraldine van Heemstra used illustrations from other artists including some talented young ones. Finally she and Bobby Chen took the piece apart demonstrated its structure. Before Bobby Chen gave us an exciting performance of the complete work. As the recital room was quite small, this meant that the sound was very vivid and exciting.

As Pictures at an Exhibition is a work I've always known mainly from the orchestral incarnation, it was illuminating to learn more of its background and hear the original piano version.

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