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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.’


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 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. He has since regularly appeared in concert in Canada, the US (including in Carnegie Hall, New York), Mexico, Brazil, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, South Africa and throughout Asia, and has collaborated with artists such as Arleen Auger, Maureen Forrester, Ben Heppner, Jessye Norman and Pinchas Zukerman. Stewart is among the few pianists worldwide who has championed the music of Nikolay Medtner, and has performed Medtner’s solo works, chamber music and concertos on four continents. His series for Grand Piano, comprising Medtner’s 14 piano sonatas, has received enthusiastic critical acclaim. In addition to his performing and recording activities, Stewart is a Professor of Piano at the Université de Montréal.

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.