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MEDTNER, Nikolay (1880-1951)


  • Paul Stewart, piano

Nikolay Medtner’s 14 piano sonatas are considered among the most significant achievement in this genre by any composer since Beethoven. After the success of his First Piano Sonata (GP617) he turned to Goethe for inspiration, and the life and loveaffirming Sonata-Triad Op. 11 translates the poet’s words of passion, suffering and redemption into sound. The capricious, mysterious and beautiful Sonata-Skazka is a masterpiece in miniature and was once Medtner’s most performed work. Dating from his years of exile, the Sonata-Idyll, Medtner’s fourteenth and final Sonata, is notable for its eloquent themes that linger long in the memory.



Sonaten-Triade, Op. 11 (1907) (00:22:10 )
No. 1 in A-Flat Major (00:11:04)
No. 2 in D Minor, "Sonata-Elegy" (00:07:22)
No. 3 in C Major (00:10:05)
Sonata-Skazka in C Minor, Op. 25, No. 1, "Märchen-Sonate" (1911) (00:12:35 )
I. Allegro abbandonamente (00:05:54)
II. Andantino con moto (00:03:43)
III. Allegro con spirito (00:04:02)
Sonata-Idylle in G Major, Op. 56 (1937) (00:12:38 )
I. Pastorale: Allegretto cantabile (00:04:18)
II. Allegro moderato e cantabile (sempre al rigore di tempo) (00:08:55)
Total Time: 00:55:23

The Artist

Canadian pianist Paul Stewart has appeared frequently in concert throughout Canada, the USA (including Carnegie Hall, New York and the Kennedy Center, Washington), Mexico, South America, the United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa and Asia. He is often invited as guest-soloist with major orchestras in Canada and abroad, and has collaborated with such artists as James Ehnes, Maureen Forrester, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman, Mstislav Rostropovich, Pinchas Zukerman, and the Leipzig, Prague and Moscow String Quartets. In 1995, his British début at Wigmore Hall, London was broadcast by the BBC, and a performance of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Moscow State Radio Orchestra was broadcast throughout Russia and subsequently released on a bestselling CD. Paul Stewart has been a Professor of Piano at the Université de Montréal, Canada since 2002.


The Composer

The Russian composer and pianist Medtner, of remoter German ancestry, made his early career in Moscow. He left Russia in 1921, finally to settle in England. Described by some as a Russian Brahms, he also had something in common with Rachmaninov, although he was generally more austere in his approach.

Orchestral Music

Medtner wrote chiefly for the piano, and his orchestral music consists of three piano concertos, the first completed in 1918 and the third in 1943. These works make heavy technical demands on the soloist and belong firmly to Late Romantic tradition, any tendency to Slavic exuberance restrained by an element of German Classicism.

Piano Music

Medtner wrote a wide range of piano music, from his 1895 Adagio funèbre, with the direction cacofoniale, through a series of genre pieces to his later Sonata-Idylle. However, they all seem to continue the tradition of Schumann rather than explore the new fields opened up by Russian nationalism and innovation.

Chamber Music

Medtner’s chamber music consists primarily of three violin sonatas, the last of which, the Sonata ‘Epica’ of 1938, makes formidable demands on its performer. There are three Nocturnes for violin and piano (1908) and a posthumously published piano quintet.


“Paul Stewart’s love and admiration for Medtner’s music come through strongly in these performances, which require a great range of treatment from the gentlest of touches, sometimes merely brushing the keys, whilst at others displaying a towering emotional intensity. His ability to bring out the poetry in Medtner is impressive and the recording is crisp, which combination makes for a hugely satisfying experience. ” – MusicWeb International

“Paul Stewart has a poetic sensibility that seems perfect for these works. His technique, though considerable, is not worn on his sleeve but instead directed toward the most musical of readings. …Medtner is Medtner and how ever that stacks up, this is very worthwhile piano music.” – Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review

“All three [pieces] call for a pianist well versed and technically able to project the big romantic gestures, the Canadian pianist, Paul Stewart, well able to meet any virtuoso challenge, his highly detailed programme notes that come with the disc, evidence of his knowledge and belief in the composer. ” – David Denton