MEDTNER Piano Sonatas

Author: 
Jeremy Nicholas
SOMMCD0142. MEDTNER Piano SonatasMEDTNER Piano Sonatas

MEDTNER Piano Sonatas

  • Sonata-Reminiscenza
  • Sonata romantica
  • Sonata minacciosa
  • Sonate-Idylle

Medtner is a ‘marmite’ composer. Even some fervent pianophiles struggle, especially on a first hearing, with the profusion of ideas presented in apparently rambling structures. With closer scrutiny and longer acquaintance, his organic, neo-Brahmsian approach to composition reveals itself with rewarding results. The grand scale and imposing architecture of the Reminiscenza, Romantica and Minacciosa sonatas (Nos 10, 12 and 13) – all, in effect, single-movement works with an array of thematic cross-references – are superbly grasped by the Italian Alessandro Taverna (b1983, first prize at the Minnesota, third prize at the Leeds 2009 competitions). He’s a fine pianist with good fingers; but, comparing him to the very highest level, one cannot overlook the fact that he tends to skate over details and generalise dynamics.

Just take one of the movements: the Scherzo from the Sonata romantica, surely one of Medtner’s most inspired 14 pages and certainly among the most technically challenging. This rollercoaster ride of dizzying right-hand passagework and eruptive syncopation veers between tumultuous onslaught and utmost delicacy. Medtner is very precise with his instructions. It’s marked presto leggiero (ma sempre marcato, molto ritmico e al rigore). Taverna takes it at a creditable allegro vivace (5'04"); Hamelin, at a barely credible 4'27", manages not only to dispatch it all with greater clarity and rhythmic élan but also with more precisely differentiated ppp and pp, as well as observing the strepitoso, tumultuoso and minaccioso (‘threatening’) requests, and hammering home the frequent sforzandos to thrilling effect. It leaves the breathless listener asking how on earth he does it. But make no mistake: if you had not heard Hamelin, you would rightly applaud Taverna who, in this first-class recording (Siva Oke and Paul Arden-Taylor), with its thought-provoking booklet (Robert Matthew-Walker), is well worth hearing.

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2018