Opening the album is Modest Mussorgsky’s most famous work, the 1874 suite Pictures at an Exhibition. Inspired by sketches drawn by his friend Victor Hermann, Mussorgsky’s suite takes the listener on a journey through a museum, stopping at different paintings with diverse moods. Paremski brings a deep knowledge of Russian language and culture to her interpretation of this frequently-performed work. “This is a journey through ancient and mythic Russia, with a nod to the Franco-Russian love affair,” she writes in her liner notes for the album. “A work I have lived with the majority of my musical life, it never fails to surprise me in its scope, harmonic modernism, and classic Russian grandeur.”
Complementing Pictures at an Exhibition is a Russian-inspired piece by jazz pianist Fred Hersch, commissioned for Paremski by the Gilmore Foundation. As Paremski was born in Russia and Hersch himself has Russian heritage, he chose to write a series of variations on one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous melodies: the oboe solo from his Fourth Symphony. Quite the pianistic challenge, Hersch’s Tchaikovsky Variations incorporates a wealth of musical influences, from Scarlatti to Chopin to ragtime. As Paremski writes, “A true testament to the musical Renaissance man that Fred is, this work is the perfect representation of the variety of texture, flavor, and melody that Fred is able to conjure.”
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