Author Topic: Nicholas Medtner  (Read 45947 times)

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Offline springrite

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #160 on: March 02, 2021, 09:03:24 PM »
The Milnes certainly has more sense of spontaneity to it, but I slightly prefer the Hamelin. The Tozer is too soft and lame for the material.

Two surprisingly good recordings are the two piano works (Medtner and Rachmaninov) on Hyperion and a solo recording played by the conductor Svetlanov.
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Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #161 on: March 02, 2021, 11:13:35 PM »
...the two piano works (Medtner and Rachmaninov) on Hyperion...

The Alexeev/Demidenko recital of music for 2 pianos by Rachmaninov (Suite No.2, Russian Rhapsody, Symphonic Dances) and Medtner (Russian Round Dance op.58/1 & Knight Errant op.58/2) has been reissued by Hyperion in its budget label, Helios. Indispensable!

Samples, here.



That's the one. It is indeed superb.

Offline kyjo

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #162 on: April 20, 2021, 07:08:53 PM »
Recently I've been blown away by Medtner's Sonata Romantica in B-flat minor. I have no trouble declaring this as one of my favorite solo piano works ever. It's absolutely sublime. The secondary theme of the first movement, which enters just after the 1-minute mark, is one of the most achingly beautiful melodies I've ever heard. It's one of those themes that sticks with you for days on end. It's so tender, longing, nostalgic, just lovely beyond words. Medtner also knows how to write really effective energetic music too, as demonstrated by the 2nd and 4th movements which have a decidedly jazzy syncopated feel at times. I've sometimes seen Medtner called "the Russian Brahms" or "Rachmaninoff without the tunes" but let me say that is total nonsense. He was a masterful composer, and in fact I must say that I overall prefer his solo piano music to that of Rachmaninoff! Sergei is of course one of my favorite composers on the basis of his wonderful concertante and orchestral music, but some of his solo piano music is a bit elusive to me. Medtner's, on the other hand, speaks directly to me, especially the wonderful Sonata Romantica.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2021, 07:11:00 PM by kyjo »
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Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #163 on: April 21, 2021, 01:01:26 AM »
Recently I've been blown away by Medtner's Sonata Romantica in B-flat minor. I have no trouble declaring this as one of my favorite solo piano works ever. It's absolutely sublime. The secondary theme of the first movement, which enters just after the 1-minute mark, is one of the most achingly beautiful melodies I've ever heard. It's one of those themes that sticks with you for days on end. It's so tender, longing, nostalgic, just lovely beyond words. Medtner also knows how to write really effective energetic music too, as demonstrated by the 2nd and 4th movements which have a decidedly jazzy syncopated feel at times. I've sometimes seen Medtner called "the Russian Brahms" or "Rachmaninoff without the tunes" but let me say that is total nonsense. He was a masterful composer, and in fact I must say that I overall prefer his solo piano music to that of Rachmaninoff! Sergei is of course one of my favorite composers on the basis of his wonderful concertante and orchestral music, but some of his solo piano music is a bit elusive to me. Medtner's, on the other hand, speaks directly to me, especially the wonderful Sonata Romantica.

I know exactly what you mean. It is a magisterial work, full of invention, gorgeous melodies, complex rhythms and breathtaking drama. His Op. 30 Sonata was known as the "War Sonata", but I think this one may also (and even more so) be deserving of the epithet; the "Romantica" designation might be selling the piece short. Paraphrasing Medtner, its "romantic" status refers to a fantastical world of shadows and light battling darkness, not romantic salons and light-hearted mirth. The theme that you noticed is indeed a sublime, achingly beautiful creation (and it is the otherwise more matter-of-fact Hamelin who manages to present it with the most apt fragrant delicateness, fragility, lilting nostalgia, grace and beauty) and what a stupendous moment it is when the movement ends in a chromatic whirlwind of shattering notes, when the dream ends and we are catapulted attacca to the second movement's carnage. The finale, too, with the ghostly flurries of notes as the work's themes re-appear one after the other in dark reverie and then it all ends in a whiff of frankincense smoke... pure genius.

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #164 on: April 21, 2021, 01:10:09 AM »
Love this little writeup, and I agree with you in spades. I always thought of Medtner as the Russian Grieg. I find his melodies so tight and memorable (and I have a very poor memory when it comes to melody), so light and airy, and pleasant. I always feel good after a Medtner listening session.

The Russian Grieg, I like that. The Russian Schumann might also be quite apt, if Schumann were more like Beethoven.

Offline Florestan

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #165 on: April 21, 2021, 05:09:23 AM »
The Russian Grieg, I like that. The Russian Schumann might also be quite apt, if Schumann were more like Beethoven.

Given the Skazki (Maerchen) and the numerous literary-inspired works, Schumann was actually the first name that came to my mind when hearing Medtner's music.
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #166 on: April 22, 2021, 01:16:23 AM »
I still think there's plenty in common with Rachmaninov. One can object to "Rachmaninov without the tunes" as a description without actually dispensing with the Rachmaninov part of the notion.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #167 on: April 22, 2021, 02:56:06 AM »
I still think there's plenty in common with Rachmaninov. One can object to "Rachmaninov without the tunes" as a description without actually dispensing with the Rachmaninov part of the notion.

No doubt. Rachmaninoff even wrote to Medtner: I repeat what I already said to you in Russia: you are, in my opinion, the greatest composer of our time.
"Melody is the essence of music." - Mozart

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Offline Madiel

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #168 on: August 26, 2021, 02:24:11 AM »
As mentioned on the WAYLT thread, I'm listening to Milne do the op.5 piano sonata, and I'm loving it. I'm pretty sure I've tried the sonatas before, but that was some years ago. I suspect I'm paying closer attention now (and it's a heck of a lot easier with Primephonic for streaming).

I already have Milne's Hyperion albums of the shorter works, and decided I would try him rather than Tozer or someone else (Hamelin is not available for streaming). It will take me a good long while to finish this new exploration, but if I keep reacting this positively I think more Medtner albums will have to be added to my collection. If anything I think I like this sonata better than the shorter works.
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Offline kyjo

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #169 on: August 26, 2021, 05:53:20 AM »
As mentioned on the WAYLT thread, I'm listening to Milne do the op.5 piano sonata, and I'm loving it. I'm pretty sure I've tried the sonatas before, but that was some years ago. I suspect I'm paying closer attention now (and it's a heck of a lot easier with Primephonic for streaming).

I already have Milne's Hyperion albums of the shorter works, and decided I would try him rather than Tozer or someone else (Hamelin is not available for streaming). It will take me a good long while to finish this new exploration, but if I keep reacting this positively I think more Medtner albums will have to be added to my collection. If anything I think I like this sonata better than the shorter works.

Indeed, the op. 5 sonata is a really strong work. Don’t miss the ineffably beautiful Sonata Romantica if you don’t know it yet! ;)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #170 on: August 26, 2021, 10:55:31 PM »
Saving this from the black hole of the wayltn thread:

Medtner, The first set of Goethe-Lieder, op.6



Some delicious stuff, and also some wild piano parts.

The piano parts of Medtner’s lieder are no less elaborate than his solo piano works. Quite astonishing, indeed.

This disc also contains what I consider the pinnacle of Medtner’s writing for the voice, as well as one of his best works overall, the Sonate-Vocalise. I don’t know if you own the CD or if you’re streaming, if it’s the latter, the Sonate is in the last two tracks of the album. I mention this because Spotify has it mislabeled as part of the preceding Suite-Vocalise (although the I. and II. numbering in the tracks’ titles reveals that there’s something wrong going on). It is in two parts, the first being a setting of Goethe’s Geweihter Platz. As a standalone lied it is a setting of great beauty, poise and a sense of what could perhaps be described as ecstatic serenity - a mood that is transferred to the second part, the themes and rhythms of which are evolving from motivic and rhythmic kernels already heard in the lied. I think it is an extraordinary creation (not least for being the only vocalise work I know that makes vocalise actually work).

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #171 on: August 26, 2021, 11:08:04 PM »
As mentioned on the WAYLT thread, I'm listening to Milne do the op.5 piano sonata, and I'm loving it. I'm pretty sure I've tried the sonatas before, but that was some years ago. I suspect I'm paying closer attention now (and it's a heck of a lot easier with Primephonic for streaming).

I already have Milne's Hyperion albums of the shorter works, and decided I would try him rather than Tozer or someone else (Hamelin is not available for streaming). It will take me a good long while to finish this new exploration, but if I keep reacting this positively I think more Medtner albums will have to be added to my collection. If anything I think I like this sonata better than the shorter works.

If you find you’re developing a more than passing liking for the sonatas, I’m afraid that getting the Hamelin set will become unavoidable. 🤷‍♂️😉

The Op. 5 Sonata is an extraordinary work and a great favourite. I would suggest you also listen to the interpretation by Lucas Debargue.

Offline Madiel

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #172 on: August 26, 2021, 11:11:31 PM »
Saving this from the black hole of the wayltn thread:

The piano parts of Medtner’s lieder are no less elaborate than his solo piano works. Quite astonishing, indeed.

This disc also contains what I consider the pinnacle of Medtner’s writing for the voice, as well as one of his best works overall, the Sonate-Vocalise. I don’t know if you own the CD or if you’re streaming, if it’s the latter, the Sonate is in the last two tracks of the album. I mention this because Spotify has it mislabeled as part of the preceding Suite-Vocalise (although the I. and II. numbering in the tracks’ titles reveals that there’s something wrong going on). It is in two parts, the first being a setting of Goethe’s Geweihter Platz. As a standalone lied it is a setting of great beauty, poise and a sense of what could perhaps be described as ecstatic serenity - a mood that is transferred to the second part, the themes and rhythms of which are evolving from motivic and rhythmic kernels already heard in the lied. I think it is an extraordinary creation (not least for being the only vocalise work I know that makes vocalise actually work).

I'm streaming. Primephonic is generally slightly better at handling these metadata questions, though they do have their own misfires. But I've never really forgiven Spotify for suggesting that the most popular work by Samuel Barber was The Barber of Seville.

But in terms of finding out what versions are available, I'm relying on https://www.medtner.org.uk/  which is fabulously good at documenting recordings.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2021, 11:17:32 PM by Madiel »
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Offline Madiel

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #173 on: August 26, 2021, 11:16:36 PM »
If you find you’re developing a more than passing liking for the sonatas, I’m afraid that getting the Hamelin set will become unavoidable. 🤷‍♂️😉

The Op. 5 Sonata is an extraordinary work and a great favourite. I would suggest you also listen to the interpretation by Lucas Debargue.

Unavoidable is a strong word... I certainly will sample Hamelin to the extent possible online before making any decisions, but there's enough positive views of Milne to not make a Hamelin acquisition inevitable. I know Hamelin has a reputation for spectacular playing in virtuosic works (and Medtner undoubtedly asks for virtuosity), but Milne is not exactly a slouch!

I'm thoroughly sold on the merits of op.5. Further assessment of purchasing options will wait until I've got to the end of the opuses I don't already own (I have both of Milne's Hyperion albums, one is the complete Skazki which was very difficult to find as a CD and the other is miscellaneous smaller works).
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Offline Wanderer

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Re: Nicholas Medtner
« Reply #174 on: October 07, 2021, 10:32:15 PM »
Unavoidable is a strong word...

…and utterly deserving. I don’t worry, you will get there sooner or later.


Medtner: Violin Sonata no. 3 Epica



Absolutely one of my favorite violin sonatas of all time. Not only is it epic, but it is also sublimely lyrical and infectiously rhythmic - almost jazzy - in places (as in the second movement). His other two violin sonatas are also wonderful.

They are, indeed! Another version of the Third Violin Sonata I particularly cherish is this: