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Pictures / Andrey Gugnin

Release Date: 04/08/2016
Label: Steinway & Sons Catalog #: 30042
Composer:  Jacques Ibert ,  Modest Mussorgsky ,  Arno Babadjanyan Performer:  Andrey Gugnin Number of Discs: 1
Recorded in: Stereo Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins.

Andrey Gugnin, Gold Medalist at the Gina Bachauer International Competition, presents Mussorgsky’s monumental work surrounded by rarely heard “Exhibitions” by Jacques Ibert and Armenian composer Arno Babadjanian.

Album Credits:
Recorded March 16-18, 2015 at Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia
Producer: Dan Merceruio
Engineer: Daniel Shores

Executive Producers: Eric Feidner, Jon Feidner
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carasquillo
Photo: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Piano: Steinway Model D #590904 (New York)
Piano Technician: John Veitch

"The pictures evoked by Grieg’s music are general ones of Norwegian
Read more landscapes, unlike the very specific Victor Hartmann works intended to be brought to mind by Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Nowadays the Ravel orchestration of this work is more familiar than Mussorgsky’s piano original, but the piano version is enormously effective when played as well as it is by Andrey Gugnin on as new Steinway & Sons CD. There are differences between the piano and Ravel versions of this extended suite-cum-tone-poem – Bydlo has a wholly different effect, for example – and Mussorgsky’s pianistic coloration of the individual segments is quite distinct from Ravel’s, which impressively employs its own sound palette. Gugnin gets both the grandeur and the delicacy of Mussorgsky’s tribute to Hartmann just right, and captures all the humor as well as the seriousness that the composer brought to this variegated work. Furthermore, Gugnin couples the Mussorgsky with two wonderfully apt companion pieces. Ibert’s Petite Suite en 15 Images is also a set of miniatures, offering a neoclassical set of small, disconnected musical scenes – some without a specific program (Ronde and Romance, for example) and some intended to evoke specifics (La machine à coudre, “The Sewing Machine,” for instance). Like Mussorgsky, Ibert includes some humor in his piano suite, but it is as different from Mussorgsky’s as the French personality is from the Russian; indeed, national typecasting is almost inevitable when differences as clear as those between these works emerge. The third work on Gugnin’s CD goes even farther than Ibert’s in the direction of miniatures without specific meaning. Among the Six Pictures by Armenian composer Arno Babadjanian (1921-1983) are a Folksong quite different from any of Grieg’s and a characteristic Sassoun Dance, but the other pieces eschew programmatic significance and simply offer strongly rhythmic and chromatic explorations of piano technique. Colorful and involving, they neatly cap a CD whose pianism and musical creativity are equally captivating."

-- InfoDad [5/19/2016]

"Shall we get ready to promenade? You would expect that a Russian tyro piano player would do justice to Mussorgsky's signature "Pictures at an Exhibition" but would you expect him to make it his own and give it that something extra? ...this solo set shows classical piano fans that they have a new pro with many good years ahead of him that will provide them with years of enjoyment. A winner."

-- MidWest Record [5/7/2016]

"The U.S.-based Steinway & Sons label has specialized in piano recitals, thematically organized and recorded with high quality. The idea is to re-create and update the programs that might have been heard during the golden age of American pianism, and indeed it's easy to imagine the first two-thirds of this recital by Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin being played around 1950. There is Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition along with two other works bearing the word "pictures" or 'images' in the title. As it happens, those other works aren't really counterparts to the Mussorgsky, but they're worth hearing. Jacques Ibert's Petite Suite en 15 images are intermittently programmatic; this suite is something of a late neoclassic homage to Couperin, with dances and little portraits mixed together, and Gugnin gives a precise reading that makes a good case for its revival. The Mussorgsky itself is made to fit into its small-recital surroundings here; if you're buying the album for that work alone, sample the opening "Great Gate of Kiev" (track 16) for a taste of the technically masterful, but not ebullient, performance. The Sono Luminus studio sound is clear and entirely appropriate to Gugnin's playing. Recommended, like most of the well-considered Steinway catalog."

-- AllMusic Guide

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