The first single-volume collection of landmark and little-known pieces of Russian late-Romantic pianism, including the magnificent Sonata tragica, in a new recording by an Italian pianist with a fast-growing international reputation.
Medtner was in the habit of jotting themes, motifs and ideas down in notebooks, calling these fragments soggetti (an Italian term normally associated with a fugue melody). The opus numbers 38, 39 and 40 derive from these snippets, committed to paper over the years and then forgotten until they returned to mind, ultimately taking on a shape of their own in the form of three cycles.
Op. 38 opens with one of the least ‘forgotten’ works of them all, the Sonata Reminiscenza, which links episodes of elegant dances with languorous interludes and sometimes frantic outbursts. The spirit of the sonata falls over several other pieces in Op 38 such as the Canzona fluviala, Canzona serenata and the remarkable Danza rustica, which translates popular dance idioms such as the habanera into a smoothly polished salon piece, making it one of the most bizarre and fascinating pieces in the whole collection.
Although the Op.39 set is less overtly sophisticated, it nevertheless offers some of the most inspired moments of the three cycles. The opening Meditazione presents roving keyboard reflections on timbre and colour, leading to a central section reminiscent of Liszt and even Scriabin in meditative mood. A pensive Romanza returns to one of the Meditazione’s themes, before an evocation of spring (Primavera) evokes Schumann in one of his sunny moods. The following Canzona matinata contains one of the loveliest melodies Medtner ever wrote, prefacing what has become his single best-known work, the Sonata Tragica.
The pianist Mattia Ometto was introduced to the exotic and enchanting world of Medtner by his friend and mentor, the late Earl Wild, and the album is dedicated to Wild’s memory.
Nikolai Medtner was born in Moscow in 1880. After piano lessons with his mother he entered the Moscow Conservatory where he had lessons from Pavel Pabst and Sergey Taneyev. He won the prestigious Anton Rubinstein Prize at age 20. A younger contemporary of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff he was destined for a brilliant pianistic career but he chose to concentrate on composition. In 1936 he settled in London where he spent the rest of his life teaching and composing till 1951.
Medtner’s style is rooted in the 19th century, full-blooded romantic, with a highly personal harmonic and melodic language, often complex and dense, but hauntingly beautiful.
This new recording presents the three sets of Forgotten Melodies. Medtner was in the habit of jotting themes, motifs and ideas down in notebooks, calling these fragments soggetti, the Italian term normally associated with the fugue. The opus numbers 38, 39 and 40 derive from these snippets, committed to paper over the years and then forgotten until they returned to mind, ultimately taking on a shape of their own in the form of the three cycles. These cycles include some of the most inspired and best known music by Medtner, like the Sonata Reminiscenza, Sonata Tragica, Canzona Matinata, Meditatione and other pianistic gems, highly attractive and evocative.
“Mattia Ometto is a pianist with a marvelous sensitivity, one of those artists whose responsibility is to make audiences perceive what real talent is" (Aldo Ciccolini, pianist - Paris). Mattia Ometto is one of the leading Italian pianists of his generation. He is currently recording the complete works for piano duet by Franz Liszt with Leslie Howard for Brilliant Classics.