Organ transcription by Samuel Liégeon
Originally composed for piano in the early summer of 1874, Modest Moussorgski's work, Tableaux d'une Exposition, pays homage to the architect Victor Hartmann (friend of Mussorgsky, and member of the group ‘The Five’, who died in 1873), and his drawings and models assembled during an exhibition organized in his memory. A veritable musical phenomenon, the Pictures at an Exhibition is undoubtedly the work that has been most orchestrated and transcribed. That of Maurice Ravel in 1922 remains to this day the most popular version.
What remains to be said about this masterpiece? Never has a piece for piano called out so much for transcription: through its various textures, polyphony, timbres, very "orchestral" writing for the piano, colours, the individual character of each piece... Although there is a plethora of arranged/orchestrated versions of the piece (more than fifty have been published), organ transcriptions are rare. The best known is probably that of Jean Guillou, imbued with his eminently personal musical conception.
This new transcription for organ revolves around the following issues: to respect the original thought of the writing (how each separate movement interacts with the others to form one whole cohesive work), and the adaptation of already very orchestral piano writing, to organ, with its wide sonic range, its technical complexities of the piece (adaptation the polarised textures, balance between divisions, registrations, manual changes, creation of a pedal part e.t.c.) and the tonal means of the organ (this transcription requires ideally an instrument of three keyboards with a manual compass of 56 notes).