Pictures/Prokofiev, Moussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, & Shostakovich
February 18, 2015
orchestral Arabian dance
This reviewer is always on the lookout for new and exciting ideas that are being explored through earlier or later versions, and in this case a rather unique arrangement of some very popular recognizable melodies from many of the Russian masters performed by the german hornsound 8.1 (eight horns plus percussion) While I’ve heard different kinds of recordings of Pictures At An Exhibition including brass and guitar the other selections are new to me. To further add to the uniqueness of the recording is each member was responsible for arranging their own part in the orchestrations of compositions that the group selected. It gives you the feeling of being able to hear how each member adds his own special touch. To make it an even more distinct sound they added selective use of percussion, celesta, and piano. Add to this original art from one of the members and excellent liner notes and you’ve got an experience not to be missed.
To give you an idea of the sound difference I’ve included two audio clips of the same work, Arabian dance, with full orchestra followed by the brass version. It’s like listening to two completely different works and I like both of them.
Other tracks that got my attention were the two by Shostakovich, “Waltz No. 2” and “Dance #1. The “Waltz #2” is played and arranged like a beer garden melody without tuba but it has the feel of a tuba. It sounds more like a polka and is definitely positive and upbeat. “Dance #1” is a showpiece for the horns as they engage in all sorts of impossible to play passages but they do and extremely well. I’m not sure if there is quadruple tonguing but it sounds to me like this is what they are doing. When one thinks of “Night on Bald Mountain” I think of a spectacular orchestral work but this again is not the case. The arrangement is cleverly designed and smoothly flows so that the highlights of the work are all included. This particular arrangement would not have been possible without the fine talents of Simon Rossler, percussionist for the Berlin Philharmonic. While I included clips for one of the Nutcracker Dances four more are performed including the overture, waltz of the flowers, overture, and Russian dance. The Prokofiev selections from Romeo and Juliet seem to fit in nicely with the style of the hornsound. Bridging the entire CD are selections from Pictures as it does in the work. Very well thought out as the promenande is played followed by a selection.