You can always count on Riccardo Muti to give a strong performance of popular works. His performance of Mussorgsky’s masterpiece is near the top. His tempi for the various “pictures” are right on. Muti’s performance is excellent and he has the sound to carry it off, but the reading does lack the oomph of others like Reiner and especially Ormandy (the earlier recording with the Philadelphia Orchestra on Columbia/Sony). Muti begins Pictures as though he is warming up, with the latter pictures much more highly charged than those in the first half. By the time he arrives at The Great Gate of Kiev he and the Philadelphia Orchestra are in full swing. It’s a top-notch performance. Gennady Rozhdestvensky’s recordings of the “Polovetsian Dances” by Borodin and The “Capriccio Espagnole” by Rimsky-Korsakov are powerful and impeccable interpretations and good companions to Mussorgsky’s “pictures”.
Composer: Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Borodin Orchestra: Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris
Conductor: Riccardo Muti, Gennady Roshdestwensky
Number of discs: 1
DR-Analysis: DR 13 Size: 1.24 GB
The performances are elegant and powerful, beautifully played by Ciccolini and well supported by the orchestra under Baudo’s expert direction. Of special note is the exquiste recorded sound. Back in the early 70’s, this was considered one of the best engineered concerto recordings around, and it sounds great today. The balance between the piano and orchestra is superb; natural, spacious and clean. Aldo Ciccolini comes from the Busoni school of pianism, which combines German intellectualism with Italianate lyricism; those who might think these qualities are unsuited to the music of Saint-Saens should spend some time listening to these marvelous accounts. The approach is quite deliberate at times, but it allows the music to unfold in a way that reveals hidden depths of expression, due in large part to Serge Baudo’s careful direction. All in all, the pairing of Ciccolini and Baudo is a fine choice for a complete set of these piano concertos.
Composer: Camille Saint-Saens
Performer: Aldo Ciccolini
Orchestra: Orchestre de Paris
Conductor: Serge Baudo
Vinyl (1974) Number of Discs: 3
Size: 3.3 GB