Warner Classics/ 2009

Pictures Reframed (Deluxe Edition): Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition; Schumann: Kinderszenen

In Andsnes’s hands, both these great cycles, utterly different though they are, feel like first-hand, vital and highly personal experiences and it’s these qualities that make this disc so compelling. – Gramophone

Leif Ove Andsnes embarks on a major project which marks a new departure for the internationally acclaimed pianist. Together with South African-born visual artist Robin Rhode he has created a special programme entitled Pictures Reframed which centres around Mussorgsky’s epic piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition combining music, film and still imagery.

“There are pieces of music where you feel everything’s there, everything is said” comments Andsnes. “Pictures at an Exhibition is the opposite, making it a perfect composition to experiment with as Mussorgsky’s music is incredibly strong but also very open and experimental. The main thing isn’t the notes themselves, but the composer’s grand vision. For me therefore, the original version of the work remains almost as a sketch that is open for transformations and changes. You have this wild narrative of a person walking into an exhibition and he crashes into the first picture and is faced with various strong images and textures. Later in the cycle he becomes a part of the picture and it takes on so many aspects. Its psychologically challenging, I think.”

Leif Ove Andsnes and Robin Rhode share a mutual fascination with Pictures at an Exhibition. Rhode had already been experimenting with images based on Mussorgsky’s work and his 2008 digital animation “Promenade” has become the opening sequence for Pictures Reframed. With its characterful and constantly changing interplay between actor and drawing it fittingly sets the scene for the musical narrative to come. “I have always worked very closely with music” Rhode says “playing with the notion of rhythm and sound. This new project is not, therefore, so distant from my regular practice although classical music has such an intense history and that will be a difficult challenge.”

Robin Rhode and Leif Ove Andsnes met for the first time in Munich in September 2007 and ideas for the programme have been evolving ever since, moving from piano to studio and back to piano. One of their early meetings took place in a derelict Berlin factory where Rhode started to draw on the bare wall – a backdrop that is often featured in his work, stemming from his introduction to art on the streets of Johannesburg. As Rhode embellished the imaginary instrument Andsnes stepped forward to perform on it, bringing another dimension to Rhode’s playful and often illusionary work.

Track Listing
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
1. Promenade
2. The Gnome / Gnomus
3. Promenade
4. The Old Castle / Il vecchio castello
5. Promenade
6. The Tuileries / Tuileries
7. The Ox Cart / Bydlo
8. Promenade
9. Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks / Bellet des pouissins dans leur coques
10. Two Polish Jews: Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
11. Promenade
12. The Market Place in Limoges / Limoges – Le Marché
13. The Catacombs (Catacombae Sepulchrum romanum) – cum mortuis in lingua mortua
14. The Hut on Fowl’s Legs (Baba Yaga) / La Cabane sur des pattes de poule
15. The Great Gate of Kiev / La grande porte de Kiev

Mussorgsky: From Memories of Childhood
16. Nyanya i ya (Nurse and I)
17. Pervoye nakazaniye: Nyanya zapirayet menya v temnuyu komnatu [First Punishment: Nurse Shuts Me in a Dark Ro

18. Mussorgsky: Duma – Rêverie (on a theme of V. A. Loginov)
19. Mussorgsky: Bliz yuzhnogo berega Krïma [Near the Southern Shore of the Crimea]

Schumann: Kinderszenen, Op. 15
20. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen
21. Kuriose Geschichte
22. Hasche-Mann
23. Bittendes Kind
24. Glückes genug
25. Wichtige Begebenheit
26. Träumerei
27. Am Kamin
28. Ritter vom Steckenpferd
29. Fast zu ernst
30. Fürchtenmachen
31. Kind im Einschlummern
32. Der Dichter spricht

Listen on Spotify

Leif Ove Andsnes’ performance here has much to recommend it. There’s his delicate, fluttering touch, almost like a hammer dulcimer, on the “Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle” section, and particularly the way the gossipy, chattering tone of “Limoges – Le Marche” is sustained until it founders on the funereal opening chords of the “Catacombs”.

The Independent

Andsnes’s performance is one of coruscating force…He sharpens the dynamic contrasts and always underlines the savagery and strangeness of the Pictures in their original piano form. Buy this CD with confidence.
The Times