Pictures at an Exhibition

For someone who studied music in college, I somehow managed to miss Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition until now. I admit I’m not a fan of large-scale orchestral works, so I avoided it not knowing that it was originally written for solo piano. I picked up both CD and vinyl copies of the solo piano version and I think it is fabulous. A wonderful mix of simplicity and virtuosity and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m definitely tempted to pick up another version.

Plese let me know if you are aware of any outstanding performances of this piece. Thanks 


I have both! I don't like London squeezing all of Pictures on one side of the LP for both the orchestra and solo piano, each on a side. Dynamic range and bass have to be cut!

The Reiner/CSO is possibly the best recording of the orchestral version. Lewis Layton recording engineer for this and other Reiner/CSO's. I have the RCA .5 Series half-speed remaster made from the analog tapes.

I think audiophiles want to think the conductor has some magic, but it’s the players doing 97% of it. The conductor can make small changes with tempi and dynamics, but that’s it. Conductors are, however, very good at marketing. Also, modern orchestras play much much better. 

It was my impression the OP was asking for piano performances, not the version orchestrated by Ravel.

An audiophile friend (Focal speakers, Linn table, etc.) considers the Ivo Pogorelich recording (DGG "4D" from 1997) to be his reference standard for piano recordings. And it is very fine: very natural, with the microphones at a normal listener’s distance from the instrument. Pogorelich is (or was) an interesting figure, by the way. I’ve got lots of stories about him; my wife was a musicologist and concert organizer in the former Yugoslavia. Amazing technique!

One of my favorite works.  This is my favorite piano version (Byron Janis)!  As a bonus, it also include the orchestral version with Antal Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony.