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Cat. No. CHAN 10093 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10093 - Medtner: Goethe Lieder
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Available From: 08 March 2004
Medtner’s first group of Goethe settings, 9 Lieder von Goethe, Op. 6 (1904) was composed as a wedding present to his brother Emil and the latter’s wife-to-be, Anna. The agony and intensity of the music seems highly inappropriate until one realises that Medtner was, himself, in love with Anna, but forbidden to marry her. The intensity of the music is an obvious reflection of Medtner’s emotional state. After a period the marriage was dissolved, and in due course the real lovers married.

Four years later, more ambitious Goethe settings were published as 12 Lieder von Goethe, Op. 15. These are perhaps more of a garland of songs on Goethe poems than a set with a common theme like Op. 6. This recording offers Nos 2 to 10. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf once observed that Medtner’s songs were among the hardest things she ever had to sing, a statement which doubtless accounts for the songs’ neglect.

The 6 Gedichte von Goethe, Op. 18 (1908) contains the most elaborate of Medtner’s Goethe settings, including ‘Das Veilchen’ which, in its extravagance, could not be more different from Mozart’s setting of the same poem. There is a tradition of vocalises in Russian music, with well known examples by Rachmaninov, Glière and Stravinsky, but Medtner entered it perhaps more thoroughly than any, inviting the singer to invent new vowels in order to aid sense and articulation. The Suite-Vocalise, Op. 41 No. 2 (1926) bears the marks of sorrow and bitterness, recollected in tranquility. Sonate-Vocalise, Op. 41 No. 1 is music of purity and simplicity. The work, in the key of C major, a key Medtner always chose for music of radiance and beauty, is dedicated to Anna Medtner.

'Tozer has already recorded Medtner's complete piano Concerts for Chandos and now. Aided and abetted by the admirable soprano Susan Gritton, he intends to retrieve Medtner's reputation as songwriter, in particular with his settings of Goethe.'
International Record Review

'Tozer is, as ever, a dependable pair of hands in Medtner's testing yet idiomatic piano writing. But this is Susan Gritton's disc: both in the texted lieder and the quasi-instrumental vocalises she produces a range of tone, an accuracy of intonation, a fluidity and sometimes grandeur of phrasing, that presents this eloquent and little-known music in a consistenly beneficent light. All in all, an entrancing disc.'
BBC Music Magazine


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