"Pictures At An Exhibition"-
is one of the world’s most popular pieces of classical music. That is mainly due to two arrangements of the piano piece: Maurice Ravel’s orchestral score of 1922 and the rock version by Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1971. To our knowledge, no-one has attempted a jazz big band version.
Clare and Brent Fischer took the piano part as the starting point to find their own solution for "Pictures At An Exhibition," independently of Ravel’s orchestral version, which they naturally knew. The ‘Promenade’ already underlines that. While it makes a majestic entrance in the original, Fischer’s version is clearly more mobile and immediately provides a stage for the first soloist. This is an undoubled jazz version of "Pictures At An Exhibition." That does not mean Mussorgsky’s melodies are merely used as melody material for extensive solos. Clare and Brent Fischer achieve a balance between composition and improvisation, and they also manage to present the well-known themes in new colours. Mussorgsky wanted to present the walk through the exhibition of Viktor Hartmann’s pieces and was inspired by the pictures themselves, whose subject and execution hardly retained any significance beyond the time of their creation. The fact that they inspired timeless music is an indication of Mussorgsky’s genius. It is a tribute to Clare and Brent Fischer that we presumably imagine modern art when strolling through the imaginary exhibition with the hr-Big Band today.
"Echoes Of Aranjuez"
In 1939 Joaquin Rodrigo composed his concert Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar and orchestra. He was born in 1901 and died in 1999, achieving what only few of his fellow composers managed tby producing a hit. Above all, the second Adagio movement has inspired countless arrangers, including the singer Milva, the James Last Orchestra and of course numerous jazz musicians. ‘Sketches of Spain’ by Gil Evans and Miles Davis, and Chick Corea’s ‘Spain’ are merely the most famous jazz adaptations. In addition to serving as a kind of quarry for arrangers from different musical genres, there are other parallels with Mussorgsky’s "Pictures At An Exhibition," that was composed 55 years earlier almost 4,000 km away: Both pieces play with the folklore of their homeland, both belong to the most famous pieces of the classical repertoire and both are inspired by a specific place. Like Mussorgsky’s Hartmann exhibition in Petersburg in 1874, the summer residence of the Spanish kings, with its magnificent architecture and spacious gardens served to inspire Rodrigo. The choice of guitar strengthens the Spanish national colour of the piece.
Bill Holman however does without a guitar, instead choosing the piano and wind section to transpose the piece in the tonal language of a jazz big band. Naturally, Holman’s unique idiom is constantly apparent, as the personal style he has developed over the years using repeated counterpoint becomes a recognizable trademark. In this way, there is never the danger or necessity of engaging with Gil Evans’ version. Although countless versions of the ‘Adagio’ can be found throughout 20th Century musical history, the complete work has rarely been the subject of adaptation. And Bill Holman is the first to add his own fourth movement to the existing three in the original.