Pictures at an Exhibition
The original idea of producing a revised 2019 edition was proposed by François-Xavier Roth as part of his Ravel cycle with Les Siècles at the Philharmonie de Paris.
Reading committe : François-Xavier Roth, Adrien Perruchon, Pascal Rophé (conductors), Benjamin Attahir (composer) and musicians from Les Siècles.
Whilst we are familiar with the events surrounding Ravel’s full orchestration of Modest Moussorgsky’s 10 Pieces for Piano (1874), commissioned in 1922 by Russian-born conductor Serge Koussevitzky (the orchestration produced by Mikhail Tushmalov in 1981, based on Rimsky-Korsakov’s version of the piano part, being incomplete), and with the work’s première performance at the Opéra de Paris as part of the Concerts Koussevitzkyconcert series on the 19th of October 1922, the “editorial” history behind this dazzling and highly imaginative orchestration remains largely unknown and somewhat neglected.
It was only in 1929 that the score and orchestral parts were engraved and published by Édition russe de Musique, Koussevitzky’s own publishing house. Up until this point, the orchestral score and individual instrumental parts remained in manuscript form. Ravel’s own manuscript, which is marked as having been completed in May 1922, bears the conductor’s markings in blue pencil and various corrections added over the many years before the work was first engraved and subsequently first recorded in Boston in October 1930. Over the 98 handwritten pages, several modifications to the instrumentation, corrections to engraving errors, dynamic markings, phrasing and even changes to the narrative structure were added by the Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and by the French composer himself.
In light of the various editorial changes made to the score following the sale of Édition russe de Musique, it seemed logical to refer back to this initial 1929 edition, reflecting on the material that was available to Ravel when he produced his orchestration.
We therefore finalised our revised 2019 edition in line with the 1922 orchestral manuscript, Moussorgsky’s 1874 manuscript, S. Koussevitzky’s initial parts, Gabriel Pierné’s 1929 score (original version published by Édition russe de Musique) and the various editions of Rimsky-Korsakov’s work for piano (Bessel, Peters, etc.) available during the 1920s.
This new edition was commissioned by the Fondation Maurice Ravel, Les Siècles, Gürzenich Orchester Köln and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
It has been recorded by Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth as part of their Maurice Ravel project for Harmonia Mundi. This recording was awarded by the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (August 2020). Text written by François Dru – October 2019 – Any reproduction, in part or in whole, is prohibited without prior authorisation from the editor.