NCMA Lunchtime Series: Zeb Wulff ‘Piano’
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Zeb Wulff brings to the NCMA stage a suite of ten piano pieces ‘Pictures at an exhibition’ by Mussorgsky.
The suite is a depiction of Mussorgsky himself wandering through a memorial exhibition of paintings by his late friend Victor Hartman.
In this movement and each promenade, Mussorgsky creates a story of himself moving through an exhibition of Hartmans works. The opening themes odd symmetry mirrors itself and alternates between even and odd time signatures establishing a feeling of unsettled potential and anticipation.
1 – The Gnome:
This movement represents one of Hartmans paintings now thought to be lost.
It is a sketch depicting a gnome with crooked legs and large teeth, thought to be a design for a nutcracker.
2 – The Old Castle:
Another lost image thought to be a dark watercolour image of an Italian castle with a ghostly troubadour singing beneath it.
3- Tuileries (Childrens quarrel after games)
Children quarreling and playing in the Jardin des Tuileries
4 – “Bydlo” (Cattle)
A Polish cart on enormous wheels, drawn by oxen
5- “Ballet of the unhatched chicks”
Hartmann’s design of canary chick costumes for a picturesque scene in the ballet Trilby
6 – Samuel’ Goldenberg and ‘Schmuÿle
This movement is thought to be based on two different portraits with opposing personalities
7 – “Limoges. The market (the great news)”
French women quarreling violently in the market
8 – Catacombs (roman Tomb)
The Paris catacombs.
Mussorgksy’s own words: “The creative spirit of the dead Hartmann leads me towards the skulls, invokes them; the skulls begin to glow softly “
Mussorksys own promenade theme now emerges as part of this movement as he seems to lose himself in Hartmans paintings.
9 – The hut on hens legs (Baba Yaga)
The fearsome witch Baba Yaga flying through the air in her pestle and mortar, cackling wildly as her hut follows her though the forest running on a set of chicken legs
10 – The Bogatyr Gates (in the capital of Kiev)
Hartmans grand design for city gates at Kiev in the ancient Russian massive style with a cupola shaped like a slavonic helmet.
In this movement it seems that Mussorkys own theme is now transformed as the suite reaches its conclusion in a massive wall of sound.
Join us for a taste of Mussorgskys musical genius; presented to you by Nelsons own Zeb Wulff.