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.
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 Slav exuberance restrained by an element of German Classicism.
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.
Medtner’s chamber music consists primarily of three violin sonatas, the last of which, the Sonata ‘Epica’ of 1938, makes formidable demands on its perfomer. There are three Nocturnes for violin and piano (1908) and a posthumously published Piano Quintet.