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A Mussorgsky Fusion: Pictures Reframed

October 25, 2009

The Russians rule. At least when it comes to dead composers – after all, they got Rachmaninoff, suckers! (I got a musician crush on Rachmaninoff, you see. :D) And I think it’s safe to say that Modest Mussorgsky‘s Pictures at an Exhibition ranks among the top 10 best-known piano works in classical music. Unless you’ve been living in the jungle for the past 150 years or so, I’m sure you’re more or less familiar with it. And for once, I’m not even objecting to going with the flow on this one – it is indeed an epic masterpiece, in my humble opinion. I count myself lucky to have had the intense pleasure/pain of playing it myself and sweating gallons of precious young blood for it; thankfully, the challenge was worth every single desperate hour of practice during the deepest dark of the night. You know – even though it’s art, you still need the skills, and they usually don’t come completely effortlessly, no matter how fortunately gifted you consider your shining talent. (I don’t believe in talent, by the way. Most of it is upbringing and training; people’s focus is largely influenced by environmental factors, in my experience.)

But rest assured: The classical piano Gods deserve your tears, little ones. Or should I say – up until recently. Because now, quite out of the sheet-music blue, something outrageous is happening. Honorable Mussorgsky’s sounds are being dragged out of the historic concert halls into free-spirited bohemian downtown spaces. A traditionally established approach is getting split up and remixed with new, very modern multi-dimensional elements of visual arts. I present you with the shocking result, an unapproved fusion that is highly progressive, provocative, courageous – to some, maybe offensive – but, most of all, simply brilliant: Pictures Reframed, the fresh interdisciplinary performance by acclaimed Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and visionary fine artist Robin Rhode. A first.

“Is it a bit risky to take a work like that, which is so well-known?” – “Yes. The answer is yes.”

And…Jumping Jehoshaphat! What about that total TITANIC moment there? I just dropped my jaw to the floor! Who drowns a $100’000 concert piano, and, even more Prozac-worthy, who nearly drowns themselves with it?! Those people clearly are a few steps ahead on insanitys ladder – or let’s say, genius’ ladder. So swoonworthy ;). Rest in peace.

If you fear not the consequences of such unmatched blasphemy and you’re absolutely positive Russia won’t find the slightest appeal in nuking your hometown, you may calculate to catch a scandalous performance of Pictures Reframed on tour.

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