Mussorgsky 'Pictures at an Exhibition'
Balakirev founded the Russian Nationalist school of composers; Mussorgsky was its most radical son. Between them they produced its two outstanding piano works. Hence the coupling on this record of Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition with Balakirev's Sonata in B flat minor. Together, these works sum up the essential characteristics of their school; its vivid realism in the Mussorgsky; its oriental refinement and formal balance in the Balakirev. By way of a bonus, Skriabin's 9th Sonata, written only three years after the death of Balakirev invites us into a unique world of volatile pianism and mystic exploration.
If you want these three Russian works together on one Compact Disc, this one is worth thinking about. Each piece is useful to a collector who is interested in a representative picture of the piano music of these Russian composers over the fin de siècle period, and few would quarrel with the choice both of composers and of music. Also Ronald Smith is a skilful pianist who plays with conviction.
C. H. Gramophone.net