After the shadowed reverie induced by Il Vecchio Castello, it’s as if Mussorgsky needs a brisk walk to shake himself up a little. The final G# is used as a pivot to turn us into the bright sunshine of B major in this Promenade, with the melody confidently proclaimed in bare octaves, striding along … until a sudden halt, and a repeat of the characteristic three-note motif of the melody, as if something caught Mussorgsky’s eye mid-stride, causing him to pause and retrace his steps…
Hartmann travelled widely in Europe, and here we find him in Paris. His picture, Tuileries, subtitled The dispute of Children after Play, is lost. It showed a group of children with their nurses. But here is an 1860s photograph of some French children dressed as soldiers in a little marching band [photographer unknown] and below is an 1867 painting by Adolf von Menzel , Tuileries, which must give some idea of the scene. There were twice-weekly concerts in the gardens, attended by the great and the good.
Listen to the childish banter of Mussorgsky’s children as they tease and taunt in a sing-song, high-pitched, back-and-forth, over-and-over two-note motif, interspersed with chattering semiquavers. A woebegone little interlude intervenes, sounding rather crestfallen, then with a quicksilver change of emotion the teasing re-erupts, voices are raised and the jabbing harmonies become spiteful. At last, order is restored and the children’s happiness returns, until with a quick scampering up the piano – they’ve gone.
Manet’s well-known painting of 1862, Music in the Tuileries, also helps the imagination.