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** MUSSORGSKY: "Pictures at an Exhibition" and more. Ivo Pogorelich, piano. (Deutsche Grammophon)

June 08, 1997|Timothy Mangan

Certainly one of the most talented pianists alive, Ivo Pogorelich is also probably the most self-indulgent, a kind of mad scientist of the keyboard who re-creates the music in his own image. This traversal of "Pictures" is typical--he makes up his own tempos and rhythms, clocking in at more than 42 minutes, in a piece that most play in a little over 30.

The pianism is amazing, the range of color and touch astonishing, but tempos are so slow and phrasing so wan that it all seems like an exercise in noodling. "The Oxcart" sounds like an 18-wheeler; the troubadour in "The Old Castle" suffers from anemia; "The Great Gate of Kiev" stretches for miles and miles.

Pogorelich is best in the ostensibly fast movements--like the "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks"--where his playing is light and frothy. Similarly, Ravel's "Valses Nobles et Sentimentales," also included here, might be better dubbed "Dirges Nobles et Sentimentales." Ivo, buy a metronome.

*

Recordings are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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