Nobuyuki Tsujii

Pictures at an Exhibition

Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917252620
Catnr: CC 72526
Release date: 22 July 2011
1 CD
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72526
Release date
22 July 2011

About the album

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky composed his cyclic Pictures at an Exhibition in 1874, after he had attended an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the artist and architect Victor Hartmann, a close friend, who had died in the summer of 1873. Deeply moved by it he almost instantly started to set down his impressions in music. Mussorgsky finished this strongly illuminating and technically quite challenging work in June 1874, within just three months after the Hartmann exhibition. The exemplary use Russian folk and church modes still strikes us today as one of the most distinct and magnificent examples of musical imagination. However, quite characteristically, it took five years after the composer’s death in 1881, before the piano suite was published in St. Petersburg by the music publishers W. Bessel & Co (this first published edition was edited by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov). But even then the work did not attract much attention, until almost half a century later, when Maurice Ravel delivered his orchestrated version (commissioned by Serge Kussevitsky in 1922) of Mussorgsky’s piano work. There can be no question about it, Ravel’s orchestration is a triumphant celebration of his own gifts, a miracle of astounding beauty and imaginatively drafted instrumental colours, but it does not have the roughness and edginess together with the overwhelmingly expressive powers of the original piano version.

Today we rank Mussorgsky as one of Russia’s leading composers, but his originality has long been disputed. His orchestrations were considered archaic if not clumsy, obviously even among his colleagues: a composer like Rimsky-Korsakov felt he had to ‘improve’ Mussorgsky’s work, leading to the kind of refinement that robbed Mussorgsky’s music of its pure and colourful stamina.

Un Sospiro (A Sigh) is one of the three concert etudes Franz Liszt composed around 1848; the other two are named Il Lamento (The Lament) and La Leggierezza (Lightness). They serve the purpose as a tool for developing the technique of piano playing as well as their performance in concert, akin to for instance Chopin’s Etudes. Un Sospiro is a sheer virtuoso piece which aims at playing a rather basic melody with alternating hands and where much attention must be given to proper phrasing and refined melodic progression.

Liszt adopted the themes from the famous vocal quartet “Bella figlia dell’amore”, in the third act of Verdi’s Rigoletto, for his concert paraphrase (1859), underpinning strong climaxes with sparkling cadenzas and capturing the whole scene with the pianistic enchantment of supreme grace and exceptional repartee and creativity, the impressively scintillating qualities of a romantic piano hero.
Virtuoze werken uitgevoerd door een beroemde blinde pianist
Dit is het tweede album bij Challenge Classics van de beroemde Japanse pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. Het is een soloalbum dat De Schilderijententoonstelling van Mussorgsky en twee pianowerken van Liszt bevat.

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky componeerde De Schilderijententoonstelling in 1874, nadat hij een tentoonstelling van zijn vriend Victor Hartmann had bezocht, die het jaar daarvoor overleden was. Mussorgsky werd diep geraakt door de schilderijen en begon zijn indrukken onmiddellijk in muziek vast te leggen. Het werk werd al drie maanden na het bezoek aan de tentoonstelling afgerond, maar kwam pas onder de aandacht toen Maurice Ravel bijna 50 jaar later een orkestrale versie maakte. Ravels versie is verbazingwekkend mooi, met klankkleuren die tot de verbeelding spreken, ondanks dat de ruwheid en de overweldigende expressiviteit van de originele versie voor piano ontbreken.

Un Sospiro is een van de drie concertetudes die Liszt rond 1848 gecomponeerd heeft. Het is een virtuoos stuk waarin een melodie afwisselend door de rechter- en linkerhand gespeeld wordt.

Liszt’s concertparafrase van Rigoletto bevat de thema’s van het beroemde kwartet Bella figlia dell’amore uit de derde akte. De parafrase benadrukt climaxen met sprankelende cadensen, en legt de scène vast met uiterste elegantie en uitzonderlijke creativiteit.

Nadat Nobuyuki Tsujii de gouden medaille won bij de 13e editie van de Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, werd de blinde pianist een wereldwijde sensatie. In Japan en China is hij net zo beroemd als Lang Lang, en hij wordt ook in Amerika steeds bekender. Hij treedt in concertzalen over de hele wereld op, niet alleen in China en Japan, maar ook in de Verenigde Staten.
Zeugnisse eines Ausnahmetalentes

Das zweite Album des japanischen Pianisten für Challenge Classics. Dieses Mal ein Soloalbum mit 'Bilder einer Ausstellung' von Mussorsgky und zwei Klavierstücken von Liszt! Nobuyuki Tsujii war gemeinsamer Goldmedaillengewinner des 13. Internationalen Van Cliburn Wettbewerbs. Tsujii gibt viele Konzerte in China, Japan, in den Vereinigten Staaten und Europa. Am 10. November 2011 wird er in der New Yorker Carnegie Hall sein dortiges Debüt geben In Japan und China ist er ebenso berühmt wie Lang Lang.


Blind since birth, Nobuyuki Tsujii was joint-winner of the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Gold Medal at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2009. Since winning the competition he has appeared at the Klavier-Festival Ruhr, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Ravinia Festival, given recitals in Washington, Indianapolis, Forth Worth, Houston and Abu Dhabi, and embarked on a major recital tour of Japan. Future plans include appearances with the BBC Philharmonic, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Moscow Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, and recitals in Berlin, Belgrade and Basel. At the age of 12, Nobuyuki Tsujii made his debuts at Tokyo’s Suntory Hall and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. Now 21, he has appeared as soloist with all the major Japanese orchestras including NHK Symphony, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony, Tokyo Symphony, Japan Philharmonic and Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa, and worked with conductors including Vladimir Ashkenazy, Yutaka Sado and Vladimir Spivakov. Nobuyuki Tsujii has made a number of recordings for Avex Classics including Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin and Yutaka Sado, an all-Chopin recital disc, and a live DVD recording of his 2008 solo recital at Suntory Hall. He currently participates in the performer’s programme at the Ueno Gakuen College of Music in Tokyo.


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