Pictures at an Exhibition (2015)

Mussorgsky, Ginastera

Hyperion Knight

In the annals of music there are a few remarkable instances where the works of lesser artists have inspired the most profound creations. The songs of Schubert often transcended the poetry which spawned them. Beethoven's greatest set of variations was based on a humble waltz by Diabelli.
In Pictures at an Exhibition, Moussorgsky, found the inspiration for his greatest instrumental work in the now-forgotten art of his friend Victor Hartmann. Hartmann's career was cut short prematurely, he died suddenly in 1873 at the age of 39, and most of the original paintings upon which Moussorgsky based his "Pictures" have been lost. Their friendship was rooted in a common search for a nationalistic art, one which drew its strength from the legacy of Russian folk lore and Russian history. Although Hartmann's talents may never have been fully realized, it is his “creative spirit” which seems to have driven Moussorgsky’s imagination more than the individual works.
More than a musical illustration of the paintings, Moussorgsky's "Pictures" seems to find the human mytho logical element in each portrait and magnifies it beyond its original scope, giving the piece its fantastical and sometimes nightmarish quality. Thus, after the Promenade theme which serves to reflect Moussorgsky's feelings about the various paintings as he walks through the exhibit, originally the sketch of a wooden nutcracker with a distorted, comical face, is magically brought to life as a misshapen dwarf , or Gnome.

Il Vecchio Castello and Tuileries were paintings of architectural and landscape masterpieces which had incidental human figures added to indicate their scale. In Moussorgsky's hands, the human figures became paramount, with the music of the old castle actually being the serenade of a Troubadour with his lute outside of the castle, and Tuileries being a group of children quarreling after playing in the famous Parisian gardens.
In Bydlo, the ox cart, the incessant march of the ox is heard through the song of its driver, a deep Russian bass. The Ballet of the Chicks in Their Shells is based on a costume-plate in which the shells contained human, not avian, occupants.

Both the Two Polish Jews; One Rich, the Other Poor and Limoges, the Market Place are street scenes. What is remarkable about Moussorgsky's sketches is the intensity of the relationships depicted. The tense interplay between the seemingly haughty, wealthy Pole and the beggar, and similarily between the gossiping women of Limoges, is heightened to grotesque proportions.

The Catacombs brings the listener into the grief experienced by Moussorgsky at Hartmann's death.  “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life, and creatures like Hartmann die?... There can and must be no consolation..."  The painting depicted Hartmann himself examining the catacombs of Paris. The movement which follows, Con Mortuis in Lingua Morta, bears the following footnote:  “A Latin text: 'speaking with the dead in a dead language.' Well may it be latin! The creative spirit of the departed Hartmann leads me to the skulls, calls me close to them and the skulls glow softly from within.”  It seems that Moussorgsky felt the guiding hand of Hartmann throughout the creative process:  “Hartmann is boiling inside me. . . I can hardly manage to scribble it all down on paper.”

The final two movements are probably the most fully Russian in character. Hartmann's painting of the Hut on Fowl's Legs is brought vividly to life as the hut first lurches, then soars through the Russian night air while the witch Baba Yaga grinds human bones for fuel. The Great Gate of Kiev was an architectural design by Hartmann which was never realized. In its grandeur, Moussorgsky envisions the chanting of priests, a religious processional, and his own elation in the final glorious return of the Promenade theme.

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Hyperion Knight

HYPERION KNIGHT was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area. He started piano lessons at the age of 4, and debued professionally at 14 in San Rafael, California, playing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. While studying with Nathan Schwartz in San Francisco, Knight received his Bachelor of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He moved to Cleveland and continued his studies, this time with Eunice Podis. His Master of Arts degree was earned from the Cleveland Institute of Music. At the age of 22, Hyperion Knight received his Doctor of Musical Arts from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Appropriate to this recording, his dissertation was on the Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Piano Sonata. In 1983 he was appointed principal pianist with the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Pictures at an Exhibition (2015)

Mussorgsky, Ginastera

Hyperion Knight

Digital Converters: EMM Lab ADC8
Mastering Engineer:


Produced By: Wilson Audiophile Recordings, LLC
Original Recording Engineer: David A. Wilson
Project Manager: Daryl C. Wilson

Analog to High Definition Digital Transfer: Bruce Brown, Puget Sound Studios

Transfer Editing: Bruce Brown, Puget Sound Studios

Producer: Bruce Leek
Recording Engineer:

David A. Wilson

The recorded perspective of the piano in this recording is close... As though the 9' Hamburg Steinway is being played for you in your living room. Of course the actual recording was not made in a living room! Instead, the great room at Lucasfilm's Skywalker Ranch, with its incredibly low noise floor and fully adjustable acoustics, was used.
To capture a clean, dynamic and harmonically correct piano presentation, a pair of Sennheiser MKH-20 Omni microphones were employed. The microphones' signal were amplified by two superb pure class-A microphone preamps custom-built for Wilson Audio by John Curl. MIT cable carried the balanced line level signal to Wilson Audio's Ultramaster™ 3O ips analog recorder. Subsequent digital master tapes were made through the Pygmy A/D converter on a Panasonic SV-3700. Playback reference monitoring was performed on Wilson Audio WATT II/ Puppies, driven by a Spectral DMA-50 amplifier through MIT CVT Terminator cables.

Recording location: Maurice Abravanel Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah
Recording Type & Bit Rate: Analog to DSD64

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Album Download duration price
Wilson9025: Pictures at an Exhibition
00:40:56   Select quality & channels above
Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade
00:01:25   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Gnomus
00:02:29   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade
00:00:55   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Il Vecchio Castello
00:04:25   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade
00:00:29   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Tuileries
00:01:05   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Bydlo
00:02:40   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Promenade
00:00:46   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells
00:01:12   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Two Polish Jews
00:02:10   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Limoges, the Market Place
00:01:27   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Catacombae
00:01:15   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - Con Mortuis in Lingua Morta
00:01:43   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition
00:00:03   N/A
Pictures at an Exhibition - The Great Gate of Kiev
00:04:41   N/A
Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 - Allegro marcato
00:04:30   N/A
Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 - Presto misterioso
00:02:38   N/A
Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 - Adagio molto appassionato
00:04:10   N/A
Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 22 - ruvido ed ostinato
00:02:53   N/A

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