Hailed as the greatest Russian classical piano composition, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition takes us deep into the labyrinth of
the human psyche in the clever disguise of program music — it’s no wonder it has been an endless source of inspiration for creative
musicians in the last 150 years. Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu — whose playing was described as an “unnameable exotic land” by
Jazz Times — revisits the cycle with an unlikely ally: veteran jazz saxophone legend Dave Liebman. While staying faithful to the original
in spirit and structure, Randalu and Liebman reimagine and recreate each musical painting anew with immediacy and fervour, mixing
generous improvisations into the Promenades, and carrying Mussorgsky’s music well into the 21st century.
Mussorgsky’s original classical work for piano takes about half an hour to perform. Randalu did not add any new parts, but followed the
original structure exactly, only transformed the Promenades, the short interludes between the movements, into separate pieces, thus
the transcript became about twice as long as the original. Inspired by their previous collaborations, Randalu composed it specifically with
Liebman in mind. His goal was to set up a musical ambience where Dave could add whatever he likes to, and where also both of them could
create something together. There are parts that are more structured and, in fact, almost completely follow the original, only with minor
changes in rhythm or harmony, however, the Promenades have become more open and spacious units, allowing the artists fine settings for
Kristjan Randalu is one of the most compelling pianists of his generation, sought after as soloist, collaborator, composer and arranger.
His musical partners have included Eivind Aarset, Mark Guiliana, Ari Hoenig, Nguyên Lê, Marilyn Mazur, Nils Petter Molvaer, Trygve Seim
and Dhafer Youssef. Randalu has performed as a soloist with the most renowned European symphonic orchestras and he has performed
at prestigious places as the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Berlin Konzerthaus, at festivals in London, Paris, Oslo and Istanbul, and toured
in the United States and Canada, across Europe and in Turkey, Korea, Australia and Israel. His numerous recordings as both soloist and
collaborator include a Grammy nomination in 2006 and Jazz Album of the Year at the 2012 Estonian Music Awards.
NEA Jazz Master (2011) David Liebman’s career has spanned nearly five decades, beginning in the early 1970s as the saxophone/ flautist in
both the Elvin Jones and Miles Davis Groups, continuing as a bandleader since. He has played on over five hundred recordings with nearly two
hundred under his leadership and co-leadership. His bands over the years have included noted musicians such as John Scofield, Richie Beirach,
Bob Moses, Billy Hart and others. His current group, Expansions, features some of the best of the younger generation.