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Modest Mussorgsky: Il Vecchio Castello (the Old Castle) : Berben

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Il Vecchio Castello (the Old Castle)

Mussorgsky Adapted for guitar orchestra by Angelo Ferraro

Berben: Score and separate parts (7, 2, 2, 2, and 2 pages respectively)

Reviewed 8th March 2017

This is of course the famous excerpt from Pictures at an Exhibition, adapted by Ferraro for a four part guitar orchestra. That said, there are moments on the score where guitar two and three are marked ‘divisi’ and therefore at least six different parts are there to be played.

This is set in G#m , not the most friendly of keys , you may think , but a lot of the part – work , is solo notes , though not all of it is. Firstly the opening has guitar one playing downward tonic chords, whilst guitar four is playing the same chord as percussion in the quarter note, eighth note rhythm so prevalent in the piece. Indeed guitar four does little else other than a small five bar melody part way through.

Guitar One shares the melody parts with Guitar Two after an opening where it plays a G#m arpeggio for eight bars. It spends a large amount of the remainder of the piece playing the melody in the higher regions .Guitar Two, apart from sharing the melody, has that ‘divisi’ section where both play pairs of notes usually over an octave apart from each other. Guitar Three is similar in difficulty to Guitar Two.

This seems to work very well, and is suitably moody and dark, thus fine for guitarists to get their hands on. It’s moderately difficult, and suitable for most decent players.

Chris Dumigan

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