Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951) was a close friend and contemporary of Rachmaninov. The two composers performed regularly together, and Rachmaninov considered Medtner to be a finer pianist than himself. His musical style, like his family background was more in the German style than his contemporaries at the Moscow Conservatory – with Brahms being a considerable influence. His three piano concertos are well worth getting to know, and display superb craftsmanship and a highly virtuosic technique. However, a problem that dogged Medtner was, that unlike his friend Rachmaninov, he never produced a work that had an instant appeal to the man in the street. Rachmaninov’s has all the sweep and passion one expects from a Russian concerto of the time, Medtner’s concerto is highly intellectual, has fewer moments of passionate music, and doesn’t give up its secrets easily.
His solo piano music is perhaps a good place to start discovering this enigmatic Russian master, and on these CDs are his 14 piano sonatas and his best known music, the wonderful ‘Fairy Tales’. Rachmaninov observed that all composers make mistakes when they are young, adding ‘only Medtner has, from the beginning, published works that it would be hard for him to better in later life. This set provides the opportunity to test this assertion as the sonatas span his early career to his old age.
“There has long been a clique of Medtner devotees who have waited for the day when the Russian composer would receive his due. CRD's ambitious recording project will certainly enable a wider audience to get to
know this beautifully crafted music and in Hamish Milne they have chosen the one pianist fully equipped to champion it. Not only has he been playing it for many years, but his pianistic refinement and convincingly
authentic approach enable him to show it in the very best light. Hamish Milne's refined pianism and affinity with Medtner's style allow these CDs to entice the listener into a world rich in formal design and reflective
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