Review


Modeste Mussorgsky
Pictures at an Exhibition:
Brass quintet

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 1984 / 2017
URL: http://www.cherryclassics.com

Score and parts

Genre: BRASS ENSEMBLES

Mussorgsky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition after being inspired by ten watercolors and drawings by his recently deceased friend Victor Hartmann. Each movement depicts a different piece of art with a “Promenade” between movements depicting an onlooker moving between the displays. Originally written as a suite in ten movements for solo piano in 1874, Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition has been orchestrated and arranged numerous times, with Maurice Ravel’s orchestration being the most famous. Now, Steven Gamble has arranged the entire work for brass quintet, initially commissioned by the Chicago Chamber Brass. The instrumentation includes Trumpet I (in C, Piccolo in A, Flugelhorn), Trumpet 2 (in C, B-flat, Piccolo in B-flat), Horn, Trombone, and Tuba or Bass Trombone. Gamble’s arrangement stays true to the original work by retaining the original keys, tempi, dynamics, articulations, and expression markings. The score and individual parts are meticulous and clean, making it easy to read. Throughout the arrangement, Gamble orchestrates various combinations of instruments, with both trumpets often doubling. Mutes are used occasionally to create different timbres and add unique character to this arrangement. The famous saxophone solo in Ravel’s orchestration of “Il Vecchio Castello” is played on flugelhorn, and the euphonium solo from “Bydlo” features the horn. This engaging, excellent arrangement is written for advanced performers and serves as an ambitious centerpiece for a professional brass quintet recital.

Reviewer: Russell Ballenger
Review Published January 31, 2019