Brattleboro Reformer

Mussorgsky piano music is played the way it should be.
It was Modest Mussorgksy’s misfortune to be both unpolished and a colleague of Rimski-Korsakov. Actually, his earthy background gave his music “a raw, even crude, realism, iconoclastic at times, favoring the primitive peasant cul­ture over the gentrified.” Alas, his dealings with Rimski-Korsakov led to the latter’s “improving” his friend’s scores, more often than not rewriting them entirely.

Those words quoted above are from the excellent program notes that accompany the Divine Art CD from its Russian Piano Music Series, “Vol. 8, Modest Mussorgsky.” That record company is lucky to have under contract pianist Anthony Goldstone, who on this disc takes on eight short pieces by Mussorgsky and — of course — the piano version of “Pictures at an Exhibition” which draws upon the composer’s original manu­script. The last three pieces on the disc are movements from “Pictures” with earlier variants from the manuscript. At last, a “Pictures” as the composer intended it. (But I will never desert Ravel’s orchestration of this work.) I must specially praise the program notes by the pianist for the detailed insight into the music he plays on this CD.

—Frank Behrens