Medtner & Rachmaninov: Music for two pianos

Medtner & Rachmaninov: Music for two pianos

Dmitri Alexeev (piano), Nikolai Demidenko (piano)


A Russian of distant German descent, Medtner studied at the Moscow Conservatoire, graduating in 1900 with the coveted Anton Rubinstein Prize. Admired as a pianist of formidable attainment and inventive imagination, he came to England in the late 1930s, settling in London. That his music (including three piano concertos, a piano quintet and over a dozen sonatas) remains largely unknown cannot be justified. An alloy of the intensest of emotions and sounds, of the most subtly variegated rhythmic life, it can, it’s true, often overcome one’s ability to perceive at first hearing; it can ‘overload the circuitry of our mind’. Medtner’s most complex work does not clarify easily. But this should not deter us. Creatively the equal of Rachmaninov and Stravinsky, his two most famous émigré compatriots, metaphorically like an Arthurian knight of old impassioned by his lady, he was an artist in love with the beauty of his muse. He played for beauty’s sake, and he composed for beauty’s sake.

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