Pictures at an Exhibition

Elegy, Homage to Sir Robert Helpmann



(1) - (16) Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition 36.12
(17) Grant Foster: Elegy 7.06 * Total time: 57.28
(18) Liszt: Funérailles 14.10 * Recommended listening * & tracks 2, 9, 16

The first solo album for Bel Air Music by Yugoslavian/Australian pianist Mira Yevtich brings together one of the most popular pieces of Russian piano music, Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition with rather less well-known fare, Liszt’s Funérailles and the premiere recording of a piece by Australian composer Grant Foster.

Foster, born in Sydney in 1945, is also a pianist and many of his unashamedly romantic works have been written to perform himself. He has a particular gift for melody, making much of his music instantly memorable.

After studying in his native Australia and in Paris, Grant Foster moved to London where he composed the incidental music for Peter Pan directed by the Australian dancer, choreographer and actor Sir Robert Helpmann (famous as the Child-Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). A huge success, the show ran for seven consecutive Christmas seasons in the 1970s. His piano piece, Elegy, was later composed on hearing of the death of Helpmann in 1986.

Foster’s London connections also include several recordings for Harrods own label. Several directors from Harrods had heard Foster’s Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra and launched their Harrods Selection label with the Australian playing works of the great composers and some of Foster's own compositions on three piano solo albums. For a fourth CD he was commissioned to write The Harrods Celebration Overture which was recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He now lives in Sydney where he teaches and continues to compose.

Franz Liszt composed his Harmonies Poétiques et Réligieuses between 1845 and 1852. The seventh in this monumental cycle of ten pieces, Funérailles is an epic tragedy in Liszt’s most dramatic style, and easily the best-known.

Pictures at an Exhibition was written in 1874 and dedicated to the painter and architect by Victor Hartmann, a friend of Mussorgsky, who had died the previous year. A musical description of walking around an exhibition of Hartmann's watercolours (with the recurring 'Promenade' movement representing the visitor), each piece either depicts a painting or invokes its mood.

Belgrade-born Mira Yevtich studied at the Tchaikovsky Conservatoire and won the 1988 International Festival of Modern Music in St Petersburg. Now an Australian national, she runs the piano department at the Australian Conservatoire. A regular soloist at Sydney Opera House, she performs regularly in Russia and throughout Europe and America. She has played with conductors such as Gergiev, Svetlanov, Katz and Yuri Bashmet, and made several CDs, including one of Mozart concertos released by Bel Air in January.

The first solo album for Bel Air by Yugoslavian/Australian pianist Mira Yevtich features one of the most popular pieces of Russian piano music, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition alongside Liszt’s epic tragedy Funérailles and Elegy by Australian composer Grant Foster, composed in memory of dancer and actor Robert Helpmann.

          Bel Air Music BAM2038

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