Monday, 20 January 2014

My first taste in Medtner's music: Fairy Tale Op. 20 No. 1

Feeling nostalgic today and started listening to one of the first Medtner Fairy Tales I played eons ago, the Op. 20 No. 1.  From an old Melodiya record, a label that was at one point a Soviet state-owned record company, Medtner himself (or Kolya as Horowitz called him) was on the piano playing his own works. Even though this Fairy Tale is one of Medtner's most performed/recorded work, I can never grow tired of listening to it. Medtner is the true composer-pianist, even more so than Rachmaninoff. This fairy tale is a small piece that he must have tossed off in a few strokes, and yet the writing exceeds every pianistic clichés of its day. It is intellectual without sounding pedantic and inaccessible, and romantic without layers of mozzarella. 

Many pianists who recorded this: Egon Petri, Heifetz on the violin (of his own transcription), Maria Grinberg, Yvgeny Svetlanov (the conductor), Boris Berezovsky, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Daniil Trifonov.  (Sofronitsky recorded Op. 20 No. 2.  I am inclined to think that someone just misplaced No. 1 after he recorded it.)

Nicolai Medtner (1880 - 1951)

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