Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Ginastera: Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 Hyperion Knight

Cover Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Ginastera: Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22

Album info



Label: Wilson Audiophile Recordings

Genre: Instrumental

Subgenre: Piano

Artist: Hyperion Knight

Composer: Modest Petrowitsch Mussorgski (1839-1881), Alberto Evaristo Ginastera (1916-1983)

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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  • Modest Mussorgski (1839–1881): Pictures at an Exhibition
  • 1Promenade01:25
  • 2I. Gnomus02:29
  • 3Promenade00:05
  • 4II. Old Castle04:25
  • 5Promenade00:29
  • 6III. Tuileries01:05
  • 7IV. Bydlo02:40
  • 8Promenade00:46
  • 9V. Ballet of the Chickens in their Shells01:12
  • 10VI. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle02:10
  • 11VII. The Market-Place at Limoges01:27
  • 12VIII. Catacombae (Sepulcrum romanum)01:15
  • 13VIII. Con mortuis in lingua mortua01:43
  • 14IX. The Hut on Fowl's Legs (Baba-Yaga)03:10
  • 15X. The Great Gate at Kiev04:41
  • Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983): Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22
  • 16I. Allegro marcato04:30
  • 17II. Presto misterioso02:38
  • 18III. Adagio molto appassionato04:10
  • 19IV. Ruvido ed ostinato02:53
  • Total Runtime43:13

Info for Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Ginastera: Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22

MOUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition: In the annals of music there are a few remarkable instances where the works of lesser artists have inspired the most profound creations. The songs of Schubert often transcended the poetry which spawned them. Beethoven's greatest set of variations was based on a humble waltz by Diabelli.

In Pictures at an Exhibition, Moussorgsky, found the inspiration for his greatest instrumental work in the now-forgotten art of his friend Victor Hartmann. Hartmann's career was cut short prematurely, he died suddenly in 1873 at the age of 39, and most of the original paintings upon which Moussorgsky based his 'Pictures' have been lost. Their friendship was rooted in a common search for a nationalistic art, one which drew its strength from the legacy of Russian folk lore and Russian history. Although Hartmann's talents may never have been fully realized, it is his “creative spirit” which seems to have driven Moussorgsky’s imagination more than the individual works.

More than a musical illustration of the paintings, Moussorgsky's 'Pictures' seems to find the human mytho logical element in each portrait and magnifies it beyond its original scope, giving the piece its fantastical and sometimes nightmarish quality. Thus, after the Promenade theme which serves to reflect Moussorgsky's feelings about the various paintings as he walks through the exhibit, originally the sketch of a wooden nutcracker with a distorted, comical face, is magically brought to life as a misshapen dwarf , or Gnome.

Il Vecchio Castello and Tuileries were paintings of architectural and landscape masterpieces which had incidental human figures added to indicate their scale. In Moussorgsky's hands, the human figures became paramount, with the music of the old castle actually being the serenade of a Troubadour with his lute outside of the castle, and Tuileries being a group of children quarreling after playing in the famous Parisian gardens.

In Bydlo, the ox cart, the incessant march of the ox is heard through the song of its driver, a deep Russian bass. The Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells is based on a costume-plate in which the shells contained human, not avian, occupants.

Both the Two Polish Jews; One Rich, the Other Poor and Limoges, the Market Place are street scenes. What is remarkable about Moussorgsky's sketches is the intensity of the relationships depicted. The tense interplay between the seemingly haughty, wealthy Pole and the beggar, and similarily between the gossiping women of Limoges, is heightened to grotesque proportions.

The Catacombs brings the listener into the grief experienced by Moussorgsky at Hartmann's death. “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and creatures like Hartmann die?... There can and must be no consolation...' The painting depicted Hartmann himself examining the catacombs of Paris. The movement which follows, Con Mortuis in Lingua Morta, bears the following footnote: “A Latin text: 'speaking with the dead in a dead language.' Well may it be latin! The creative spirit of the departed Hartmann leads me to the skulls, calls me close to them and the skulls glow softly from within.” It seems that Moussorgsky felt the guiding hand of Hartmann throughout the creative process: “Hartmann is boiling inside me. . . I can hardly manage to scribble it all down on paper.”

The final two movements are probably the most fully Russian in character. Hartmann's painting of the Hut on Fowl's Legs is brought vividly to life as the hut first lurches, then soars through the Russian night air while the witch Baba Yaga grinds human bones for fuel. The Great Gate of Kiev was an architectural design by Hartmann which was never realized. In its grandeur, Moussorgsky envisions the chanting of priests, a religious processional, and his own elation in the final glorious return of the Promenade theme.

GINASTERA: Sonata No. 1 Op. 22: The early nationalist movements in music among nineteenth century European composers led to a surge in nationalist sentiments among composers on virtually every continent in the twentieth century. Latin American composers such as Heitor Villa-Lobos and Carlos Chavez introduced the folk culture, songs and dances of their continent to their most serious works. The music of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera (l916-1983) can be roughly divided into two catagories. The first includes works up until the Second String Quartet (1958) in which Argentine characteristics are clearly present. After l958, Ginastera adopted a more international style, devoid of obvious folk elements.

While many of Ginastera's earliest works possessed what he termed an “objective” nationalism, in which folk elements were apparent to most listeners, the works from 1948-1954 were more “subjective” in that the Argentine characteristics are perceived more by the composer than by the listener. It was during this second, more subtly nationalistic period that Ginastera wrote his Piano Sonata No. l (1952). While each of the four movements contains uniquely Latin American elements, they are not immediately obvious, and are woven into a more abstract texture.

The first movement, Allegro marcato, has the broad, expansive feeling of the Argentine Pampas. Modeled after standard Sonata-Allegro form, it has a lovely pastorale second theme. The second movement, Presto misterioso, is a piece of night music not unlike the Musiques nocturnes from Bartok's Out of Doors Suite. The sounds of buzzing insects are heard, as variously musical bands of strumming guitarists are heard entering into the scene, as well as chirping crickets.

The third movement, Adagio molto appassionato, again utilizes the effect of a guitar, only this time the guitar is tuning. The arpeggiated chord which forms the main theme is based on the tuning of a twelve string guitar. The final movement, Ruvido ed ostinato, is an Argentine dance, the Malambo. The dance was typically the province of the cowboy, or gaucho, who used the syncopated rhythms in a tap-dancing contest to woo a woman.

Mr. Ginastera's music continues to enjoy wide popularity, a fitting tribute to his art and to his humanity.

Hyperion Knight, piano

Digitally remastered

Technical / Listening Notes: The recorded perspective of the piano in this recording is close... As though the 9' Hamburg Steinway is being played for you in your living room. Of course the actual recording was not made in a living room! Instead, the great room at Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch, with its incredibly low noise floor and fully adjustable acoustics, was used.

To capture a clean, dynamic and harmonically correct piano presentation, a pair of Sennheiser MKH-20 Omni microphones were employed. The microphones' signal were amplified by two superb pure class-A microphone preamps custom-built for Wilson Audio by John Curl. MIT cable carried the balanced line level signal to Wilson Audio's Ultramaster™ 3O ips analog recorder. Subsequent digital master tapes were made through the Pygmy A/D converter on a Panasonic SV-3700. Playback reference monitoring was performed on Wilson Audio WATT II/ Puppies, driven by a Spectral DMA-50 amplifier through MIT CVT Terminator cables.

Hyperion Knight
is a pianist with a romantic touch. Known for the diversity of his repertoire, he is equally at home in serious classics and popular standards. Hyperion's recordings range from Beethoven to the Beatles, and in addition to regular appearances with orchestras across the United States he has been a featured entertainer at Manhattan’s Rainbow Room and Essex House. A Gershwin enthusiast, Hyperion has made recordings devoted to unique arrangements of Gershwin’s music, and frequently performs both Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F, most recently with the Santa Fe, Long Beach, Tennessee, St. Joseph, Greater Grand Forks, New Mexico and New Jersey Symphony Orchestras.

Other recent guest appearances include the Mozart Concerto #21 in C with the Utah Symphony, the Grieg Concerto with the Maui Pops Orchestra, and the Rachmaninoff Concerto #2 with the Kansas City Philharmonia and the Cleveland Philharmonic. Hyperion also makes frequent concert presentations on luxury cruise lines such as Silversea, Seabourn, Holland America and Celebrity. In 2013 he was given the honor of being named Silversea's "Entertainer of the Year".

Hyperion was born in Berkeley, California and graduated at age 19 from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. By the age of 22 he had received both a Master’s degree and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and he was awarded the Arthur Loesser Prize upon graduation. Hyperion now lives in New York where he studied with members of the Juilliard faculty and made his New York concerto debut playing the Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto #1. Hyperion's teachers have included Paul Hersh, Eunice Podis, Paul Schenly and Jerome Lowenthal.

Hyperion has made a specialty of virtuoso piano transcriptions in the tradition of Liszt and Horowitz. His album Gershwin by Knight, a collection of Gershwin song transcriptions and the solo arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue, was given a glowing review in the pages of Stereophile, whose critic exclaimed “Hyperion Knight plays with marvelous verve and spectacular confidence. Notes are never fumbled or blurred, yet the performance has swing and drive.” The Sensible Sound called his Gershwin “nothing short of astonishing.” The Magnificent Steinway, his CD of romantic piano transcriptions on the Golden String label, was called "one of the most enjoyable CD's of recent years" by CD Review, and Fi Magazine described Hyperion as a “daredevil atop his gleaming, black-and-ivory silken-voiced machine. Bravissimo!” Hyperion is also an enthusiast for the great performers of the past, and as a recognized authority on historical recordings he has published numerous articles about the great pianists and conductors of the twentieth century.

Booklet for Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Ginastera: Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22

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