About this Recording

A Musical Visit to Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan
With music by Mikhail Mikhaylovich Ippolitov-Ivanov, Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky, Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky, Anatol Konstantinovich Lyadov and Anton Rubinstein



Uzbekistan: Pilgrims and Brichmula Mountains

The predominantly Islamic region of Uzbekistan, formerly a Soviet republic, has impressive mountain scenery, particularly towards the east of the country.

Music Ippolitov-Ivanov: Procession of the Sardar from Caucasian Sketches

Mikail Mikaylovich Ippolitov-Ivanov (1859–1935) drew particular inspiration from many of the ethnic communities of the former Soviet Union. A graduate of the St Petersburg Conservatory, he moved in 1882 to Georgia, where he spent some ten years. The Procession of the Sardar, from his Caucasian Sketches, was written after his appointment to the staff of Moscow Conservatory in 1893.


Russia: Kremlin, Suzdal

The historic town of Suzdal, lying to the east of Moscow, was briefly, in the early 12th century, the capital of the principality of Rostov-Suzdal, but later declined in importance. The Kremlin, the fort founded in the 11th century, includes houses, churches and the cathedral complex. The Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral, founded in the third decade of the 13th century, contains remarkable frescoes that date from the 13th to the 17th century.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – I. Religious Chant

Anatol Konstantinovich Lyadov (1855–1914) belongs to the same generation of Russian composers as Ippolitov-Ivanov. Born in St Petersburg, he studied there at the Conservatory. His Eight Russian Folk-Songs seek a source of inspiration well in accord with nationalist aspirations, starting with his evocation of a religious chant.


Russia: Bogolyubovo Church, Vladimir

In 1157 or 1158 Andrey Bogolyubov returned from the sacking of Kiev to make his capital at Vladimir, rather than in his father’s capital, Suzdal. The reason for his choice is said to have been the fact that his horses chose to stop at this place, rather than move further north. The place where this happened, outside Vladimir, is now known as Bogolyubovo.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – II. Christmas Carol

The second of Lyadov’s Russian folk-songs is a characteristically Russian Christmas carol.


Russia: Bogolyubovo Church, Vladimir

The Church of the Intercession on the Neri at Bogolyubovo has a simplicity and beauty all its own, in its rural setting, with its white walls, carvings and cushion dome. It is said to have been built by Andrey Bogolyubov in memory of his son Izyaslav, killed in battle with the Bulgars.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – III. Plaintive Song

Lyadov’s series of transcriptions continues with an aptly titled Plaintive Song.


Russia: Nikolay Nikolayevich Ge’s ‘Hunters at Rest’, Russian Museum, St Petersburg

Of French origin, the painter Nikolay Ge settled in Florence before returning to Russia, later to spend ten years in the Ukraine studying the religious writings of Tolstoy. His painting Hunters at Rest is characteristic of Russian genre painting of the later 19th century.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – IV. Humorous Song

The cycle continues with a Humorous Song, ‘I danced with a mosquito’, with light-hearted orchestration.


Russia: Birds in St Petersburg

Birds in St Petersburg find food even in the coldest conditions on the frozen rivers and streams of the city.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – V. Legend of the Birds

Birds are reflected in Lyadov’s orchestration of the fifth of his folk-song arrangements.


Russia: Cemetery, Novgorod

Novgorod in 862 became the first capital of the Scandinavian conquerors of the Slavs and over the centuries assumed commercial and cultural importance, with the Swedes gradually replaced by Russian merchants. Conflict was settled in the middle of the 13th century, when foreign invasion from the west was defeated by Alexander Nevsky. Novgorod Cemetery provides a sombre scene in the bitter winter cold.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – VI. Cradle Song

There is an air of melancholy about Lyadov’s version of the folk-song Cradle Song.


Ukraine: Childhood in Odessa

Odessa is a port of significant size, at one time the largest port of the former Soviet Union on the Black Sea. The city has a population of some 1.2 million.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – VII. Round Dance

Lyadov’s instrumentation of Round Dance matches well the picture of children at play.


Russia: Winter in St Petersburg

By November the temperatures in St Petersburg are dropping below zero, with more snow to come. The winter provides opportunities for outdoor activities, skating, sleighing and skiing.

Music Lyadov: Eight Russian Folk-Songs – VIII. Village Dance Song

Lyadov’s folk-song cycle ends with a cheerful village dance.


Ukraine: Odessa and Crimea

The best known sight in Odessa must be the Potyemkin Steps, familiar from Sergey Eisenstein’s famous film Battleship Potyemkin, in which a massacre is set there. They were built between 1837 and 1841 and lead up to a statue of the Duc de Richelieu, a refugee from the French Revolution who governed the region from 1803 to 1814. Odessa and the Crimea provide holiday resorts, a refuge from urban life and the harsher climate of the more northerly cities.

Music Kabalevsky: Comedian’s Galop

Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky (1904–1987) wrote his suite The Comedians in 1940. He was trained and later taught at the Moscow Conservatory, and held important positions in the Union of Soviet Composers.


Ukraine: Landscape between Kiev and Odessa

The countryside between Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, lying inland on the River Dnieper, and Odessa is rich farming land of considerable agricultural importance.

Music Mussorgsky: Gopak from The Fair at Sorochintsy

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839–1881) was one of the founding group of five nationalist Russian composers gathered around Balakirev, their mentor and leader. Originally an army officer, he later followed an intermittent career as a civil servant, his activities modified by alcoholic excess and terminated by relatively early death. His Russian dance, Gopak, is taken from an unfinished opera based on Gogol, Sorochintsy Fair.


Uzbekistan: Khiva and Bukhara

Khiva is sited at an oasis on the Silk Road and was at one time the capital of an Uzbek khanate. The old town, carefully preserved, is rich in buildings dating from the 17th to 19th centuries, mosques, medrese, tombs and palaces. The larger town of Bukhara, to the south-east of Khiva, marks another oasis on the Silk Road, on the way to its rival city of Samarkand.

Music Mussorgsky: Dance of the Persian Slaves from Khovanshchina

Mussorgsky’s Dance of the Persian Slaves from another unfinished historical opera, Khovanshchina.


Russia: Autumn Forest near St Petersburg

The birch and pine forests around St Petersburg offer a familiar and characteristic scene in autumn.

Music Lyadov: Baba Yaga, Op 56

The witch Baba-Yaga rides through the air in a mortar, living on children, generally cooked, and guarding the waters of life.


Russia: Valday Heights between Moscow and St Petersburg

The Valday Heights, where the great River Volga rises near Lake Seliger, are between Moscow and St Petersburg, some way north of Smolensk, a formidable geographical barrier.

Music Lyadov: The Enchanted Lake, Op 62

Russian lakes hold lurking spirits, eager to drag humans down to their death.


Russia: Winter Forest near St Petersburg

The first snow in October in St Petersburg is followed, in December, by winter proper, with snow that will fall for some months and even continue into May. By April, however, the spring thaw will have set in. The trees around St Petersburg, principally birch and pine, are as spectacular in winter as in other seasons.

Music Lyadov: Kikimora, Op 63

Kikimora is a domestic spirit, a help to the good housewife and a plague to the lazy, to be placated by ferns gathered in the forests.


Ukraine: Yalta, Crimea

The Black Sea resort of Yalta provides recreation of various kinds. After contracting tuberculosis, the writer Anton Chekhov spent much of his last five years here and is commemorated in a museum and theatre that bear his name.

Music Rubinstein: Dance of the Bayadères No 2 from Feramors

Anton Rubinstein (1829–1894) played an important part in the development of music in Russia, where he founded, with royal encouragement, the St Petersburg Conservatory, an institution followed by a similar establishment in Moscow, under his brother Nikolay. Rubinstein was also one of the greatest pianists of his time, with an international reputation as a performer. The Dance of the Bayadères is taken from his oriental opera Feramors, an exotic romance on the story of Lalla Rookh.


Ukraine: Marriage in Odessa
Russia: Konstantin Somov: ‘Lady in Blue’, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Odessa, with its fine streets and neo-classical buildings, provides a fine back-drop for any wedding. The Russian artist Konstantin Somov, who died in 1939, belonged primarily to the turn of the century ‘decadent’ group of artists led by Bakst. His principal interest lay in the meticulous painting of harlequins and of women in 18th century dress.

Music Rubinstein: Bridal Procession from Feramors

The Bridal Procession is also taken from the opera Feramors, its title the name of the hero, disguised as a poor singer but in fact the Khan to whom his beloved is betrothed. He is eventually united with his beloved princess.

Keith Anderson


‘Russian Fireworks’: Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra cond. Richard Hayman, Kenneth Jean, Stephen Gunzenhauser and Michael Halász [Naxos 8.550328]

Close the window