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MEDTNER, NIKOLAY (1880–1951)

Complete Piano Sonatas • 3

  • Paul Stewart, piano

Medtner’s 14 piano sonatas, the most significant achievement in this genre by any major composer since Beethoven, span his career. The Sonata-Ballade explores a tempestuous musical allegory – the triumph of Light over Darkness, of Faith over Doubt; while the Sonata in A minor is cast in a single, terse movement, with folkloric elements and frequent use of bell-like features that exude Russianness. By contrast, the ‘Night Wind’ Sonata is a monumental epic of exceptional complexity that stunned Rachmaninov and led composer and critic Sorabji to call it ‘the greatest piano sonata of modern times.’

This recording was made on both modern and period instruments: tracks 1-4 (Steinway & Sons, Model D, serial number 578182 (Hamburg, c. 2007); tracks 5-6: Steinway & Sons, Model D (Hamburg, c. 1929)


Sonata-Ballada in F-Sharp Major, Op. 27 (1914) (00:23:00 )
I. Allegretto - (00:11:36)
II. Introduzione: Mesto - (00:03:56)
III. Finale: Allegro (00:11:10)
Piano Sonata in A Minor, Op. 30 (1914) (00:17:03)
Piano Sonata in E Minor, Op. 25, No. 2, "Night Wind" (1911) (00:35:00 )
Introduzione: Andante con moto - Allegro - Tempo dell'introduzione - (00:18:31)
Poco a poco Allegro molto sfrenatamente, presto - Quasi cadenza - Largamente (00:14:55)
Total Time: 01:17:11

The Artist(s)

Paul Stewart Canadian pianist Paul Stewart launched his career in 1981 with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with the Toronto Symphony. Since then he 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. Other recordings include works by Beethoven, Britten, Honegger, Liszt, Prokofiev, Ravel, Schubert and Strauss. For Grand Piano he is currently recording the complete piano sonatas of Nikolay Medtner, a composer he has championed and performed on four continents. Paul Stewart has been a Professor of Piano at the Université de Montréal, Canada since 2002.

The Composer(s)

Nikolay Karlovich Medtner was Moscow born-and-bred, although his ancestry was German. As a child he showed musical promise, and studied piano with his mother until his acceptance into the Moscow Conservatory at the age of twelve. Medtner’s teachers during these years included Vasily Safonov for piano, Anton Arensky for harmony and Sergey Taneyev for counterpoint, the latter having a particularly strong influence on his musical development. Taneyev instilled in all his students a respect for the old masters—Palestrina, Bach, Mozart and especially Beethoven—and stressed contrapuntal and structural command as essential to any composer’s craft.


“Stewart has the intellect, technique, and musicality for a captivating performance of this work. Getting to know Medtner in great detail with a guide like Stewart is a pleasure.” – American Record Guide

“Medtner’s achievements are underpinned by superb interpretations of these amazing works.” – MusicWeb International