Modest Mussorgsky
Pictures at an Exhibition:

Arranged by Timothy Higgins

Coventry, , United Kingdom
Publisher: Warwick Music Publishers
Date of Publication: 2008

Score and parts

Primary Genre: Trombone Ensembles - 4 trombones

Noted trombonist Timothy Higgins presents this arrangement of one of Mussorgsky’s most popular works. In this extremely challenging version, each movement is carefully orchestrated to ensure that all essential parts are covered. Obviously, the density of the original is lost in this interpretation. In many instances there is a sensitivity to idiomatic transcription of the parts for trombone.

Ranges are extreme. First and second parts are given in tenor clef and require G-flat to f2 (1st). The lowest note scored in the fourth part is BB. Enhancing the color changes from the original, Higgins calls for instrument substitutions in some of the movements to include bass trumpet, euphonium, bass trombone (3rd part), and contrabass trombone. Creative choices of cup, straight, and Harmon mutes are indicated, as well as straight mute for the bass trumpet; however, some movement endings are notated attaca and require immediate awkward mute changes. At times, lines are elegantly handed-off that allow for breathing, and other times where breathing is problematic. Confident command of multiple tonguing, alternate positions, trills, register shifts, compound rhythms, and harmonic intonation is essential.

Some movements might be accessible by a less-experienced ensemble; however, performance of every movement requires professional skills. Higgins has undertaken an incredible effort to compress the score for four players, retaining as much of the original richness as possible and utilizing the flexibility of the available instruments and mutes to create appropriate and engaging timbres.

-David Stern
Lewiston, Maine

Reviewer: David Stern
Review Published August 4, 2023