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MEDTNER, Nikolay (1880-1951)


  • Paul Stewart, piano

Like his near-contemporary Rachmaninov, who called him ‘the greatest composer of our time’, Nikolay Medtner was a composer, pianist and an exile from his native Russia. His portfolio of works includes a remarkable series of pieces for his own instrument, including fourteen sonatas and some hugely evocative, deeply poetic miniatures. Medtner’s gift for melody is immediately discerned in the early Sonatina in G minor. The Sonata No. 1, Op. 5, his first large-scale work, enshrines autobiographical elements and is both intense and spiritually charged. Poetry and nostalgia flood the beautiful Sonata-Reminiscenza in A minor. This is the first volume of a complete cycle of the Medtner Piano Sonatas.


Sonatina in G Minor (1898) (00:07:23 )
I. Allegretto, ma non troppo (00:02:42)
II. Scherzo: Allegro (00:04:47)
Piano Sonata in F Minor, Op. 5 (1903) (00:31:17 )
I. Allegro (00:13:50)
II. Intermezzo: Allegro - (00:03:41)
III. Largo - (00:08:43)
IV. Finale: Allegro risoluto (00:09:12)
Forgotten Melodies, Op. 38: No. 1. Sonata reminiscenza (1922) (00:15:27)
Total Time: 00:58:22

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.


“This is pianism at its pinnacle.” – Fanfare

“Paul Stewart adds a voice of exceptional distinction, finely presented and recorded.” – Gramophone

“It is all fresh and wonderfully alive.” – American Record Guide