Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition. Part 6 “Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks”

 

This is a purely imitative, character piece…an ideophone… And, here, of course, the performance depends only on the performer’s the sense of humor.

The sense of humor of Modest Petrovich is not questioned here, because so far, he has once again proved his thinking to be ahead of the accepted ideas and possibilities of his time. And once again it is timeless. And what is timeless ?

And the eternal role of the hen, yes … Through his amazing works he goes to the very roots, to the proverbial question about the order of chicken and the egg. And his art is extraordinary, because it comes primally from the earth’s core.

And here, in spite of the fact that the dance ..In Hartmann’s picture there were sketches to the ballet that had never been performed, where there should have been … a comic sketch, “The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks”, incorporating strange figures -half in the egg and the other half on chicken’s legs.

But Modest Petrovich gives here through musical technique a picture … a global chicken picture.

[1: 42] Here we have the interpreter’s touch already connected with the image of the pecking bird. Even through touch, he is sketching the figure, the physiology, and even the feelings of the pecking bird.

Let’s go quickly through this, step by step, without stopping, because everything here is very simple, everything here is too visible and does not require any deep analysis or psychological depth.. Just an exceptional sense of humor, and here we see the artist in full command of his instrument, because here we derive nothing but the pure feeling of great satisfaction and internal happiness. Both the performer and the audience.

And, of course, there is absolutely no need to be embarrassed by smiles from the interpreters, or the public, because it’s really very funny. So. [2:43] Mechanical movements are spontaneous, but with a certain mechanical rhythm typical of the very movem ent of a large number of birds. [2:57]

The Onomatopoeia, an ideophone, the use of sound to imitate nature, is extraordinary. Immediately what is heard … is not a tweet, it is cackling

After all, it is very to such an extent all …Recall that we talked about how it was quite natural for him to describe the nationality his toddlers, barely standing up on their feet. It’s the same here. In a certain way, he immediately portrays for us his chicken with his artistic, amazing flair, particularly the domesticated chickens-and no other. [3:30]

Running on chicken legs. With cackling. [3:39] Moreover, in addition, they are still young chicks ! Because the register he chooses portrays, in general, chickens, but they are adolescent chickens. I, as a person who grew up in nature, know all these gradations well, how chickens of all ages behave … how old the hens are. That is, here Modest Petrovich portrays for us the young chickens. Not newborns – but older ones, running.[4:18]

Here again, very funny … the right hand [4:25] depicts pecks and cackling [4 :31], and the lower voice portrays, of course chicken feet, as they run. [4:38]

You can not draw it better than that, as running through on chicken legs. That’s right. (4:48) 2 It’s so funny that it’s even difficult for me to play it. [4 :51]

Here, of course, is the cock’s voice. All of these chicken runs end with a crowing of a rooster. [5 :05]  A real rooster crowing with a very characteristic grace note, also part of the cock’s crowing sound.

Further, the middle part – an amazing exaggeration, when the lower voice… [5:28] There is simply no better way to depict a pecking hen. Listen to what the lower voice is doing. [5:35] Lower voice. [5:37] The lower voice is a slow chicken movement. It already becomes viscous, because the chickens are busily eating food. And the middle voice – short and jerky – should be played well defined and separate taking care that the pace not get carried away through the use of exaggerated tempo by interpreters, namely, because the character is what is important, independent of the tempos.

Altogether … A deep imagination and mastery of the imagery is present in this wonderful humorous picture.

So. [6 :11]
Here, the average voice remarkably shows mechanical pecks, as if chickens are mechanically and reflexively pecking food. [6 :22] This is an incredible artwork of the image.

And here, finally, at the top, we hear real unhatched chickens. That is, it is … not even clucking but less than a squeak, namely, that sound of a beak punching through a shell with a squeak. [6 :50]

As a wonderful artist he does not make the part a solo, which would be rather poor, instead he places it in the middle voice and assigns to the lower voice the mechanical work of the chickens pecking at their food.

And the effect is absolutely incredible. [7 :16] And we, of course, should perform this with great humor as much as possible, because there is simply no limit to the humorous expression in the sounds of this picture. [7 :33]

The next stage, when chicks appear to wobble on unstable legs, [7:46] plaintively squeaking, the lower voice behaves in general quite funnily. [7:55] The melody of the lower voice is definitely of the street.

This melody is of a hooligan. It’s that … this already connects this music with some jailhouse songs. And, of course, this could only come from a man who heard and knew well the street, and could provide an authentic melodic medium.

Listen to this. And you, of course, will hear what I’m talking about. [8:26] That is, we hear here some kind of poignant song. [8:32] It’s difficult enough to show everything so deeply, separately, and, at the same time, both separately and together, and in harmony. This is quite a large artistic and technical task. Again we are faced with the fact that the greatest difficulties arise precisely at the point when we need to create an artistic image, and we are instead faced with a call for virtuoso whirlwind.

This, I repeat, is the easiest – to create virtuoso whirlwinds. Which is so appreciated, unfortunately, by the superficial public. It is very easy. There is nothing easier. And to create an artistic image where everything is so subtle that it touches literally everything – this is the work of all life.

So. Completely of hooligans, convicts, yet at the same time gently feminine, a delicate and fragile picture of the weak and helpless chicks. [9:43] Return. [9:53]
The Rooster! ..[10:04]
We are moving away from the chicken coop. And are closing the picture.

Completely finished cinematic image. Surreal, unreal. What was required in this unrealistic name, the unrealistic solution of the surrealistic picture “The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks.”

This is pure surrealism. And thus, in the music of Mussorgsky he embodies not just the full incarnation, but also a font of fantastic beauty, and demonstrates the limitless abilities of the composer –a satirist, humorist, surrealist, realist, great national genius.

Many thanks!
Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks [11:01]

Translated by Svetlana Harris

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