Pictures at an Exhibition
Composed by Modest Murrorgsky
For Woodwind Quintet
Arranged by Joachim Linckelmann
Published by Barenreiter
Includes score and parts
Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet, Horn in F, and Bassoon
Nr. 1 Gnomus
Nr. 2 Il vecchio Castello (The old Castle)
Nr. 3 Tuileries
Nr. 4 Bydlo
Nr. 5 Ballett der unausgeschlüpften Küken – Ballet of the Chickens in their Shells
Nr. 6 “Samuel” Goldenberg und “Schmuyle”
Nr. 7 Limognes. Le marché. (La grande nouvelle) – The Market-place at Limoges
Nr. 8 Catacombae (Sepulcrum romanum) – The Catacombs
Cum mortuis in lingua mortua
Nr. 9 Die Hütte auf Hühnerfüßen (Baba-Jaga) – The Hut on Fowl's Legs
Nr. 10 Das Heldentor (in der alten Hauptstadt Kiew) – The Great Gate of Kiev
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) composed his piano cycle Pictures at an Exhibition (“Kartinki s vistavki”) in 1874 after attending an exhibition of pictures and drawings by the architect and draftsman Viktor Hartmann (1842-1873), in whose memory the exhibition was held posthumously in 1874. Mussorgsky and Hartmann had been friedns from 1870. This cycle is Mussorgsky's only piano work that has attained uncontested stature. Besides its original form, it is generally known in the 1929 orchestral arrangement by Maurice Ravel. However, many other arrangements also exist, including those by Pander and Stokowski, not to mention the rock version by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
Mussorgsky's notion of describing paintings in music far transcends other instances of the “program music” fashionable in Europe at that time. As one clear indication of this, not only are the pictures incorporated in the course of the cycle, but also the exhibition visitor himself and his varying points of view (“Promenade”). Mussorgsky made little effort to adapt or subordinate the musical ideas of his piece to the limitations of the piano. Instead, we seem to be confronted with the beginnings of an orchestral work that was never carried out, perhaps due to lack of time. Mussorgsky was unable to finish a large number of his works and plans. Conversely, several of his piano pieces exist in his own arrangements for orchestra.
Strong evidence suggesting that the work may have been intended for orchestra is provided by, say, “Catacombs” (no. 8), a series of sustained chords to which Mussorgsky, among other things, has added crescendo hairpins (!), and by “The Great Gate of Kiev” (no. 10), the chords of which never sound entirely satisfactory on the piano.
Thus, the woodwind quintet, with its variegated combination of timbres, has once again proved to be well-suited for making this music accessible to all admirers and practitioners of chamber music. In comparison with the original version, the present arrangement includes a number of minor changes conducive to ensemble performance, such as the writing out of the fermatas at the end of the final number and the altered placement of accidentals in several of the “promenades”.
– Joachim Linckelmann
(translated by J. Bradford Robinson)