Pianist Max Lifchitz Plays “Pictures”: Mussorgky & Lifchitz

Screen shot 2016-10-21 at 11.54.24 AM7:00 pm • Monday, October 24th 2016
University at Albany Performing Arts Center • Albany, NY

Modest Mussorgky‘s Pictures at an Exhibition is one of my favorite pieces of music … in all its versions, transcriptions, and incarnations. While I am not exactly sure when I first heard the ever-popular orchestral version, I do remember going to the Place des Arts in Montréal to hear a performance by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal with the esteemed Charles Dutoit on the podium. I’m guessing I was in middle-school at that point. Then somewhere along the line I learned the work was originally written for the piano. As a huge fan of pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy, my parents treated me—I believe as a birthday present—to a recital by Ashkenazy, again at the Place des Arts in Montréal in which he performed Pictures at an Exhibition. (Thank you Mom and Dad!) As a high school student, I got the English progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s live album of the band’s arrangement. I remember listening to this for hours on end, now completely enthralled having heard an orchestral transcription, the original piano work, as well as an arrangement for brass quintet by the Philip Jones Brass ensemble.

OK … no doubt you get the picture … I’m a Pictures at an Exhibition junkie. And this is why, when I received the notice from the University of Albany that faculty member and internationally recognized composer and pianist Max Lifchitz is performing Mussorgsky’s work, I had to alert you! I, of courese, think it is a must hear. The concert is this coming Monday at 7:00 PM at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center.

A brief background for the uninitiated. In early 1874 (in Saint Petersburg), Vladimir Stasov arranged an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the Russian architect Viktor Hartmann, who died suddenly in the previous year. This exhibition made a profound impression on Hartmann’s friend, Modest Mussorgsky, who immediately set about composing his Pictures at an Exhibition. The work, written as a tribute to a lost friend, is a suite in ten movements (plus the recurring, varied “Promenade”) and has since become Mussorgsky’s most famous piano composition and a showpiece for virtuoso pianists.

Active internationally as composer and pianist, Max Lifchitz is marking thirty years as a faculty member of the University at Albany’s Department of Music and Theatre with this performance. The San Francisco Chronicle described him as “a stunning, ultra-sensitive pianist” while The New York Times praised him for his “clean, measured and sensitive performances.” Lifchitz appears as collaborative artist and conductor in over fifty compact disc albums, including nine widely praised solo albums featuring piano music from the Americas.

In Monday’s concert, pianist Lifchitz performs Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. Interestingly, the program also features a few of Lifchitz’s own compositions including his recent Piano Silhouettes, which are a collection of his “reaction pieces” to five of Elisabeth Condon’s paintings. Images of the paintings by Viktor Hartmann that inspired Mussorgsky as well as Ms. Condon’s works that provided the needed impetus for Lifchitz accompany the performance.

While, I have faith you’ll be happily musicking over the weekend, I really hope you can take in Monday’s performance by Max Lifchitz in the UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s intimate recital hall. It should be a wonderfully engaging performance.

Upcoming Events

  • Albany Symphony Orchestra: “Peer Gynt” | Grieg, Anderson, Rouse, Tchaikovsky and more
  • Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
    Sunday, October 23rd 2016 at 3:00 pm

  • Classics on Hudson: “Basking in the Baroque” | Bach, Handel, and Purcell
  • Hudson Opera House, Hudson, NY
    Sunday, October 23rd 2016 at 3:00 pm

  • Max Lifchitz, piano: “Pictures at an Exhibition” | Mussorgsky, Lifchitz, and more
  • University at Albany Performing Arts Center, Albany, NY
    Monday, October 24th 2016 at 7:00 pm

  • Troy Chromatic Concerts: Warsaw Philharmonic with pianist Seong-Jin Cho | Weinberg, Chopin, Brahms
  • Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
    Wednesday, October 26th 2016 at 7:30 pm

  • Crescendo Vocal Ensemble, Berkshire Children’s Chorus and Sorpano Alexandra Aubert | Palestrina, Mendelssohn, Farias and more
  • First Congregational Church, Great Barrington, MA
    Saturday, October 29th 2016 at 4:00 pm

  • Albany Pro Musica: “Harvest Home”
  • Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY
    Sunday, October 30th 2016 at 3:00 pm

  • Schenectady Symphony: “Trick or Treat” | Mussorgsky, McBride, Saint-Saëns, Dukas and more
  • Proctor’s Theater, Schenectady, NY
    Sunday, October 30th 2016 at 3:00 pm

  • Union College Concerts: Christian Zacharias, piano | Schubert, Beethoven, Schumann
  • Union College Memorial Chapel, Schenectady, NY
    Sunday, October 30th 2016 at 3:00 pm