Medtner completed his last piano sonata in London in October 1937. Dismayed by the technical difficulty of so much of his music, which in effect precluded its sale to the majority of amateur pianists, the composer’s publisher had asked him to write some less demanding—and potentially more marketable—works. This sonata was one of the pieces that resulted and, as implied by its title, its mood is one of happy innocence. It is cast in two movements, both in the key of G major. The formal simplicity and brevity of the first, a ternary structure lasting barely three minutes, contrasts with the elaborateness of the second, a sonata movement with three themes, the last a sunny Medtnerian hymn that is brought back for the work’s climax.
It is strangely touching to think of the exiled Russian composer working on this sonata, evoking an Arcadian world, in the incongruous surroundings of the bustling North London suburb of Golders Green. Scarred by the vicissitudes of a troubled life, dispirited by the triumph of the modernism in art he so much despised and the neglect of his own work, Medtner, despite everything, never ceased composing, the faithful servant of his muse, uncompromising in his artistic integrity. To the end he remained, as Glazunov described him, ‘the firm defender of the sacred laws of eternal art’.
from notes by Barrie Martyn © 1998