Entertainment :: Music

Pictures at an Exhibition for Jazz Trio and Orchestra

by Steven Bergman
Contributor
Monday Jul 7, 2014
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Modest Mussorgsky’s musical masterpiece, "Pictures at an Exhibition," has provided dozens of composers and arrangers with an array of source material since its origin in 1874. Originally written as a piano solo, Mussorgsky’s homage to the artwork of his friend, Viktor Hartmann, contains a wide variety of wonderful styles and imagery, and has been arranged and orchestrated by as varied individuals as Maurice Ravel (for orchestra) to the progressive rock group, Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Yaron Gottfried, an Israeli composer and conductor, brings "Pictures at an Exhibition" into the jazz world with his latest recording. Using his trio (Rony Holan on drums, and Yorai Oron on bass), and members of the "Uno ensemble," Gottfried gives us a fresh look at this wonderful work, expanding the palette of Mussorgsky’s twelve movements to include Latin grooves, a "New Orleans" sound, reggae sections, and middle-eastern styles.

From the reharmonization of the opening, "Promenade," and into the first "picture," the "Gnomus," Gottfried exposes his talent on the piano, along with nice solos from Oron and Holan. He doesn’t obscure the movements beyond recognition, and primarily sticks to ABA forms for most of the pieces. He establishes the rhythmic style, but allows us the recognizable themes before going off and providing plenty of room for the three musicians to take their solos.

Highlights on the recording include an expanded "Gnomus" movement, a fast-paced piano riff on "Limoges," and a strong combination of the orchestra and trio in the "Tuileries" section. Gottfried is currently head of the new composition and conducting department at the Rimon School for Contemporary Music, and has been the music director and principal conductor for the Netanya-Kibbutz Orchestra for the past eleven years. This release should help bring his name and talents to a wider audience.


"Pictures at an Exhibition"
Yaron Gottfried, from Modest Mussorgsky
CD and digital formats
GPR Records

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.

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