Up the Downstair

Being a weeklie podcaste from Madison, Wisconsin featuring several remarkable curiosities therein occurring being a compendium of live music from divers artistes

Show #236: Modest at an Exhibition

May 17th, 2011

Lately I’ve been listening to a BBC radio documentary series called “Russia: The Wild East”. If you get a chance to hear it, do so because it’s very interesting. You can learn all about Rurik, why Kiev ceded its place as the capital of Russia to Moscow, how Russia almost become Muslim but didn’t because Islam prohibited drinking, etc. Since I’ve been in a Russian mood, I’ve decided to post some music by this guy, Modest Mussorgsky:

mussorgsky Show #236: Modest at an Exhibition

Mussorgsky lived from 1839 until 1881 and is one of the most famous of all Russian composers. This podcast has two of his most well-known pieces, Night on Bald Mountain and Pictures at an Exhibition. I knew that the latter, an imaginary stroll through an art gallery inspired by the work of Viktor Hartmann, was written as a suite for piano with Ravel arranging it for orchestra to give us the piece with which we are most familiar and inspired Emerson, Lake and Palmer to do their own take on it. However, I didn’t know that Night on Bald Mountain has been re-orchestrated through the years until a few minutes ago when I looked it up at Wikipedia. There’s the original from 1867, Rimsky-Korsakov’s version from 1886, and the one by Leopold Stokowski used in the Disney film Fantasia. I’m not sure which one we have here but I presume it’s Rimsky-Korsakov’s. Night on Bald Mountain is a tone poem or “a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section (a movement) in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another (non-musical) source is illustrated or evoked” and, in this case, it’s about a bunch of witches getting together and performing their rites.

This is a recording from German radio from 28 January 2009 and features the Radio Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR, a.k.a. – the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, and was conducted by Constantinos Carydis. I know nothing about Herr Carydis so I can’t say anything about his reputation in classical circles.


FM Host (intro)
Eine Nacht Auf dem Kahlen Berge
FM Host (outro)
FM Host (intro) & Tunings
Das Alte Schloss
Ballet Der Kücken
Samuel Goldenberg & Schmuyle
Der Marktplatz von Limoges
Die Katakomben
Con mortius in lingua mortua
Die Hütte von Baba Yaga
Das Große Tor von Kiev
FM Host (outro)

Download show

Modest Mussorgsky

Here part one (of four) of the National Philharmonic of Russia performing Pictures at an Exhibition.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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  3. Get Thee to the Symphony
  4. Show #78: PROGgy Goodness

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