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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Pictures At An Exhibition (Special Edition)'
(ELP, et al / DVD / NR / 2010 / Eagle Rock)

Overview: Pictures At An Exhibition was filmed at the Lyceum in London in December 1970. A slightly different version was recorded for a live album release in Newcastle in early 1971. The film version was finally released in cinemas in 1973 and has had brief previous releases on VHS and DVD. This new special edition, forty years on from when it was originally filmed, has the most complete version of the film available and is presented in the best possible sound and picture quality.

DVD Verdict: With virtuoso keyboardist Keith Emerson at the helm, progressive rock supergroup Emerson Lake & Palmer specialized in adapting classical music to the rock form. Their 1971 debut featured adaptations of works like Bartok's "The Barbarian" and Janacek's "Sinfonietta" (re-titled "Knife-Edge"). "Pictures at an Exhibition" (1972), the first of three live albums ELP released during the 1970s, represented an ambitious leap from these shorter attempts.

Most of the album's running time is devoted to ELP's interpretation of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky's work of the same name. The encore "Nutrocker," a takeoff on Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" theme, brings the album to full LP running time.

And for that reason alone, ELP was critisized as pompus and pretentious. And with "Pictures," they peaked in that regard. Ravel's orchestration of "Pictures" is one of those classical pieces which is perfect without any further adaptation.

However, it is very cool to watch these three men in their musical prime turning out music with the scope of an entire symphony. It is a shame the original video here is covered up with early '70s psychedelic flashing color changes and oil bubble lamps - which are NOT on stage, but overlaid onto the image!

Nor does the video ever let you see the entire band playing. In addition, the audio seems to have musical drop-outs where the person on the mixing board didn't have volume controls for the keyboards or guitars properly set. For the record, the filmed concert on DVD was remastered into a Dolby Digital 2.0 track, and the soundtrack CD remains pure stereo.

If you are a die hard ELP fan, this is a must. But, personally, I prefer the ELP Live at the Royal Albert Hall DVD because: a) the video transfer is 100% better; b) the sound quality is 100% better; c) the performance is 100% better; and d) it has 400% more of ELP's music on it!

As a bonus, the DVD features a previously unreleased 1970 live performance from Belgian television program “Pop Shop,” as well as the original theatrical trailer.

Pictures At An Exhibition: 1) Promenade 2) The Gnome 3) Promenade 4) The Sage 5) The Old Castle 6) Blues Variation 7) Promenade 8) The Hut Of Baba Yaga 9) The Curse Of Baba Yaga 10) The Hut Of Baba Yaga 11) The Great Gates Of Kiev 12) Take A Pebble 13) Knife Edge 14) Rondo Bonus: Pop Shop 1971 - 1) Interview 2) Rondo 3) Nutrocker 4) Take A Pebble 5) Knife Edge 6) Blues Jam / Nutrocker Bonus Features The previously unreleased live performance from the Belgian TV show Pop Shop from 1971. Original theatrical trailer for Pictures At An Exhibition.

This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.