Modest Mussorgsky wrote his Pictures at an Exhibition in 1874 but it wasn’t until 1886 that the work was published, posthumously. Written in commemoration of the friendship and work of artist and architect Viktor Harmann, it takes the form of an imaginary tour around an art gallery, with inspiration for each picture taken from Hartmann’s drawings and watercolours.
Whereas other arrangements attempt all 10 movements I’ve opted to arrange only those most suited to the wind quintet medium, together with specially adapted Promenades to create the necessary flow and harmonic relationships between the movements. Here, six pictures are visited: Tuileries, in which you can almost hear chattering children playing in the gardens; The Old Castle, with its beautiful, melancholic troubadour theme; Ballet of the unhatched chicks , based on a canary chick costume design; Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle – portraying two Polish jews, one rich, one poor; the Market Place in Limoges depicting a bustling market; and the grand finale, the Great Gate of Kiev, which is based on a sketch of a monumental gate for Tsar Alexander II. As the observer moves from one picture to the next there is a recurring Promenade theme made famous in recent times for its use in ITV’s The New Statesman.