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A chance for Medtner


ASV    CD DCA 1044

Record Box


As a contemporary and countryman of Rachmaninoff, and likewise a virtuoso pianist, Medtner is seen but dimly by us today. The answer probably lies in the music, which generally takes a less impassioned view of things, and melodic material is severer in manner. But in technical mastery of his romantic language no weakness is evident, and I suspect that the all-too-common vicissitudes of writing music and getting performances played a part in getting nowhere.

The second violin sonata sweeps along like a schooner under full sail [listen - track 5, 10:55-11:35]. It has a manner commanding respect for the certainty of presentation and development, and the listener's musical instincts accept and enjoy - assuming he has some feeling for this rich fare....

Generally his principal themes are a touch curious in effect, less obvious than from a dyed-in-the-wool romanticist. I at first felt this as a possible weakness - no intense romantic ardour - yet Medtner finds this a natural ingredient in his way of putting material through development. By the end of a good soaking in the sonata I was elated by the very quality of every tiny part used in building the music into complete movements. Yes, at times questions spring to mind, not really of weakness, just a touch of commonplace. But each falls into place as the scheme becomes familiar.

Medtner. Copyright (c) 1999 ASV Ltd.When I got to the the short pieces, I unwisely assumed them as fillers to get the record up to a realistic duration for a CD. Not so. Medtner has a canny touch for pieces 4-6 minutes in length [listen - track 12, 00:48-01:19]. The tunes are a better blend of melodic grace supported by delicious twists of harmonic subtlety. A short piece intensifies the effect.

All this would have drowned in a choppy sea if the players had lacked understanding of the music. They play almost as one and display the music superbly through its many moods and colours.



Copyright © 26 January 2000 by Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews