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Medtner: Arabesques, Dithyrambs, Elegies
and other short piano works
‘Write one such piece and one can die.’ So pronounced Rachmaninov, no less, after hearing the second of Medtner’s Arabesques. This is just one of the delights in the enticing selection box offered by Hamish Milne, a long-standing and ardent champion of Medtner’s music. These two discs explore the many miniatures—in size though not in ambition—that he wrote throughout his life. The very opening of his Mood Pictures shows a remarkable sophistication for a man barely out of his teens, while the magnificent pair of Elegies forms a fitting conclusion to a set that reminds us that it is sometimes among the ‘miscellaneous’ works that the greatest gems are to be found.
“As Milne's forthright, utterly secure performances make clear, much of this is strongly characterised music...Milne is a wonderfully persuasive advocate for this distinctive and generally underrated music” The Guardian, 14th March 2012 ****
“Here is a declaration of musical faith if ever there was one. No pianist has done more for Medtner's reputation than Hamish Milne...[His] playing will surely make Russians, in particular, listen in awe to such magisterial command and poetic empathy...Milne writes his own superb notes, and this is surely in the running for instrumental issue of the year.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012
“The humorous Dithyramb No. 2 is surely a masterpiece, and Milne happily strides its Olympian terrain with unforced richness of tone. Medtner's expressive range grows on the second disc...The official set of Op. 55 is perhaps the most conventional work here, though Milne's articulates that as beautifully as the rest.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2012 ****
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Nikolai Medtner - Piano Music Volume 6
(also available to download from $10.75)
Usually despatched in 8 - 10 working days. (Available now to download.)
Medtner: Complete Piano Sonatas
Meditation, Op. 39 No. 1
Primavera (Spring Tale), Op. 39 No. 3
Three Hymns in Praise of Toil, Op. 49
Elegy Op. 59 No. 2
Dithyramb in E flat major, Op. 10 No. 2
Sonata Triad, Op. 11
Sonata in E minor, Op. 25 No. 2 'Night Wind'
Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 22
Romantic Sketches for the Young Op. 54
Skazki (Fairy Tales), Op. 8
Three Novelles, Op.17
Piano Sonata in A minor, Op. 30
Piano Sonata in F minor, Op. 5
Second Improvisation Op. 47
Sonata-Ballada in F sharp major, Op. 27
Skazki (Fairy Tales), Op. 34
Sonata romantica in B flat minor, Op. 53 No. 1
Forgotten Melodies, Op. 39
Skazki (Fairy Tales), Op. 48
Etude in C minor
I loved thee, Op. 32 No. 4
Sonata minacciosa in F minor, Op. 53 No. 2
Two Pieces Op. 58
Sonatina in G minor
Moment Musical in C minor (Gnomenklage) Op. 4 No. 3
Prelude in E flat Op. 4 No. 4
Fairy Tale Sonata (Sonate-Conte), Op. 25 No. 1
Sonata reminiscenza in A minor, Op. 38 No. 1
Sonate-Idylle, Op. 56
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
poetry.” Gramophone Magazine, March 1990
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