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Hyperion Records

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Warrior Knights (1881-1898) by Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67851/2
Recording details: March 2011
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: March 2012
Total duration: 17 minutes 25 seconds

'No pianist has done more for Medtner's reputation than Hamish Milne, and on this two-CD set of shorter works … he tells you that a still neglected and misunderstood composer demands to be heard … Milne, with his awe-inspiring grandeur and eloquence, speaks to you of music which tugs at and haunts the imagination … what wild capering in the Scherzo infernale from Op 2 and how arresting the pianistic layout in the First Improvisation, where Milne far excels Earl Wild's dazzling but musically more superficial reading … Milne's playing will surely make Russians, in particular, listen in awe to such magisterial command and poetic empathy … Hyperion's sound is incomparably superior … surely in the running for instrumental issue of the year' (Gramophone)

'The humorous Dithyramb No 2 is surely a masterpiece, and Milne happily strides its Olympian terrain with unforced richness of tone' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Medtner had a gift for crystallising images within a concise musical frame. There are delights aplenty, and Milne brings out their beguiling expressive range' (The Daily Telegraph)

'As Milne's forthright, utterly secure performances make clear, much of this is strongly characterised music … Milne is a wonderfully persuasive advocate for this distinctive and underrated music; together with his discs of the Skazki, these performances are a fine complement to his earlier survey of the 14 piano sonatas' (The Guardian)

Drei Dithyramben, Op 10

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It is unclear what Medtner understood by the word ‘Dithyramb’, often said to be a hymn to the Greek gods of wine and fertility, although even classical scholars cannot agree on its precise meaning or evolution. Schiller’s poem with the same title (set by Schubert) is a general paean to the gods, so it is possible that Medtner (well versed in German literature from childhood) took his inspiration from there. From his Three Dithyrambs Op 10, and from the last movement of his Violin Sonata No 1, Op 21 (similarly entitled and marked Festivamente), we can deduce that he thought of it as some kind of solemn ceremony or celebration, almost a ritual, never more so than in the four portentous gong strokes which begin the first piece of Op 10 (Maestoso severamente) and are never far away, either in the foreground or buried in the texture. The second and greatest Dithyramb carries a footnote: ‘In the manner of a sermon, that is of a theme freely interpreted and varied.’ The theme itself is grandiloquent and surprisingly diatonic but the undulating quintuplets and chromatic adventures of the development bring a note of anxiety which is swept away by the return of the main theme decked in resplendent virtuoso garb (grandisonante) and capped by a blistering Prestissimo coda. The third Dithyramb (Andantino innocente), in effect a kind of postlude, is comparatively mild, even pastoral in tone, but still proceeds with a stately tread.

from notes by Hamish Milne © 2012

Other albums featuring this work
'Medtner: Demidenko plays Medtner' (CDH55315)
Medtner: Demidenko plays Medtner
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55315  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
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