It remains one of Krushchev’s more quixotic moves to have presented Ukraine with the Crimea in 1954 , as commemoration of the three hundred years since Little Russia had appealed to join the motherland. Of course he could not foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union , nor the rusting away of the Russian battle fleet in her main naval port of Sebastopol. By contrast , Mussorgsky thoroughly enjoyed three months’ leave there, during which he gave recitals and wrote On the Southern Shore of the Crimea (Gurzuf) , evocative of a Tatar village , with central dance framed by atmospheric subtleties.
Anthony Goldstone continues his recital with Pictures from an Exhibition , which we are now more likely to hear in orchestral transcription . The painter of the watercolours on show was Viktor Hartmann, friend of Mussorgsky who had died recently and was perhaps better known as an architect. Remains of ‘The Great Gate of Kiev ‘, originally built in the Eleventh Century when the city was the most important centre in Russia, still survive.
For good value Goldstone gives earlier versions of three representative ‘pictures’.
In Goldstone’s performance the ‘Great Gate’ and its peal of bells have a massive solidity as assurance that any Polovtsian marauder or perhaps ‘Golden Horde’ invader under the nephew of Genghis Khan might be kept at bay.