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Cat. No. CHAN 10266 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10266 - Medtner: Piano Works, Vol. 8
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Available From: 15 November 2004
"Medtner wrote his Three Arabesques, Op. 7 in 1904, and the calamitous events of Russian history that unfolded in that year must surely provide the clue to the subtitles of two of the Arabesques, ‘Tragedy – Fragment’. As a set these three pieces form a descent from dreaminess through despair to violence and chaos. The ‘Idyll’ is the calm before the storm, rather than anything peaceful, when heard in context.

The next published work, Two Fairy Tales, Op. 8, the first of Medtner’s tightly controlled narrative works with that title, carries forward the idea of crowds in the streets, of tragic events, unease, impending disaster, revolution and ruin. The first Tale begins lightly enough, but becomes more and more sinister, giving the feeling of someone being stalked by something. The second Tale erupts instantly, its story-telling more like film reportage than wordy description.

When his German publishers begged Medtner for some easier works he obliged with Romantic Sketches for the Young, Op. 54, four Tales, each preceded by a Prelude. Hardly music for the young to play, the title suggests something more ironic, perhaps ‘old-fashioned music that is easy to understand’. This is not to say the music is unattractive, or excessively simple; the ‘Hymn’ (no. 7) is one of Medtner’s loveliest pieces.

It is with the second Improvisation in the Form of Variations, Op. 47, that Medtner’s titles need to be considered as poetic rather than literal, otherwise why would the work be as lengthy as it is, and, unusually for Medtner, so asymmetric? Or, indeed, why not longer? A work that concerns itself with elves and goblins and water nymphs could easily go on finding more fanciful creatures on which to improvise. Geoffrey Tozer believes that the work is autobiographical and that the titles are perhaps metaphors, or codes.

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Reviews

…a labour of love… performances of unfailing mastery and warmth… the recordings are excellent.
Gramophone on CHAN 9899 (Vol. 7)

'But these plainspoken readings lay out the music in all its absorbing detail for us to hear and appreciate.'
BBC Music Magazine

…this is a stunning disc, not only in the bravura passages… and the thunderous outbursts… but in the more lyrical moments as well.
Fanfare on CHAN 9692 (Vol. 6)

Geoffrey Tozers… cycle of Medtners complete piano music contains glories and riches indeed – an unending sense of intricacy from Russias most subtle and recondite composer…
Gramophone on CHAN 9618 (Vol. 5)

What a wonderful find! Nicholas Medtner (1880-1951) is not often programmed. He was roughly contemporary with Rachmaninov (a few years younger), having studied piano with a student of Liszt… This release is a treasure well worth exploring. And the impressive British pianist Geoffrey Tozer brings to it a whimsical imagination, considerable technique, and a beguiling warmth that sustains rapt attention. He displays a mature and highly developed musical intelligence, mastery of the keyboard, and a wonderful attention to detail that encourages us to explore more of Medtner’s music – and of Tozer’s playing. What more could one ask? Sheer delight.
American Record Guide

It was no so long ago that the music of Nikolai Medtner languished inn relative obscurity. Happily, this is no longer the case and one of the pianists who has helped redress this ill-deserved neglect is Geoffrey Tozer…no collection should be without this and the previous seven volumes.
Pianist

 

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