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Beethoven, Ravel and Mussorgsky

London Symphony Orchestra/Gianandrea Noseda

Photo of Gianandrea Noseda in black suit

A great many composers are skilled in summoning up pictures in their listeners’ imaginations, but one work in particular surpasses them all.

Mussorgsky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition as a memorial to an artist friend, each of the movements evoking a work on display. Ravel's orchestration underlines the mood of each painting, from the woodwind chirpy chicks through to the reverberant brass in the catacombs, the percussive terror of the witch and the blazing brass and pealing carillons of the finale.

Ravel's set of four Spanish sketches easily brings to mind the hot sunshine of Spain. Although he had not yet visited the country when he wrote them, his mother was Basque and she regaled her son with memories of her homeland while he grew up near the border.

Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto is a stunning example of a composer at his most forward-looking, yet beautiful and elegant.

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