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Cat. No. CHAN 9899 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9899 - Medtner: Piano Works, Vol. 7
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Available From: 12 February 2001
Nikolai Medtner was born into a Baltic-German merchant family. At the age of twelve he was admitted to the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Liszt’s pupil Pabst and the great Vassily Safonov. He studied theory with Arensky, but much more interestingly found his way to Taneyev, studying strict counterpoint and assimilating the methods of Palestrina and Fux to an unheard-of degree.

Medtner graduated at the age of nineteen with the Gold Medal. Intended for a concert career, he stubbornly insisted on devoting himself to composition. He re-entered the Conservatory in 1909 as a Professor, and his excellent teaching is still remembered there.

He married Anna, previously wife of his brother Emil, in 1919. Perhaps Anna was attracted to his songs, as she was an excellent singer. She went with him into exile after the Revolution, followed by Emil, and returned to Moscow after the death of the brothers in London, bringing with her the composer’s archives.

Rachmaninov secured Medtner a tour of America in 1924. Programmes of his recitals survive: alarmingly anti-commercial all-Medtner evenings with sonatas interspersed with songs and shorter pieces. Medtner never adapted himself to the commercial aspects of touring and concerts became infrequent. Esteemed in England, he settled in London in 1936, modestly teaching, playing and composing to a strict daily routine.

Hardship really hit at the outbreak of the War, his income from German publishers dried up and ill health became an increasing problem. His devoted pupil Edna Iles gave him shelter in Warwickshire where he completed his Third Piano Concerto, performing it at a 1943 Promenade Concert. When all seemed hopeless a miracle happened. In 1946 the Maharajah of Mysore, Sir Jaya Chamaraja Wadiyar, himself a pianist whose playing had been abruptly stopped by a wartime injury, founded a Medtner Society to record all of Medtner’s works. Medtner was already in declining health but managed to record all of his concertos plus numerous songs and shorter works before his death in 1951.

‘Tozer devours the music’s fiendish technical difficulties with unperfunctory brilliance.’
Hi-fi News on CHAN 9285 (Respighi - Concertos)

‘Geoffrey Tozer [has] enormous technique.’
Fanfare on CHAN 9389 (Korngold – Sonatas for Piano)

‘He plays these eloquent and intense little pieces with understanding, spontaneity, good colour, and real feeling.’
American Record Guide

‘Wonderful stuff.’

‘Medtner’s rich, wistful music and Geoffrey Tozer’s consistently lively engagement with it combine to produce a satisfying, important set.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 9723(4) (Medtner – Complete Sonatas for Piano)


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