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Track(s) taken from CDA67491/2

Skazki, Op 14

composer

Hamish Milne (piano)
Recording details: October 2006
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: April 2007
Total duration: 7 minutes 37 seconds
 
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Reviews

'They're among [Medtner's] characteristic utterances and include many of his finest inspirations. Some are simply masterpieces … it's excellent to have a complete collection from Hamish Milne, one of our leading Medtnerians, as a welcome counterpart to Marc-André Hamelin's complete Sonatas, also on Hyperion. Milne is in complete technical and expressive command, bringing to them the fleetness and rhythmic spring, the varied character and wit, that all Medtner's music needs. He crests the summists of their virtuosity with such ease one can concentrate throughout on the music, not the pianist, as Medtner intended … he expounds the composer's thought with complete identification and sympathy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'From the very first of these skazki ('tales'), I was hooked. Much of this is to do with the advocacy of Hamish Milne, who has already recorded some of this repertoire for the CRD label, is regarded by many as the composer's greatest living champion and, as his booklet note emphasises, is determined to see through the prejudice that has dogged the composer's reputation since his death in 1951. His playing has the muscularity to cope with Medtner's often challenging rhythmic writing—listen to the bracing 'Dance Tale' from Op 48 of 1925—while this vigour is counterbalanced by a sensitivity to the music's poetry and lyricism. Indeed, his sympathy for Medtner's ever-amenable style—echoing Rachmaninov and Debussy at times—ensures that the ear is constantly engaged' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This is a major, important release … Milne has been recording Medtner for quite some time now … and his detailed and very well written booklet notes are on the same high level as his pianism … no-one plays these musical Tales as well as Hamish Milne' (American Record Guide)

'Hamish Milne's performances maintain a high level of consistency, presenting Medtner's ideas with great clarity. His playing has a crispness and rhythmic vitality that serves the music well. Medtner's various moods are all capably handled … an impressive achievement and eminently recommendable recording … recorded sound is up to Hyperion's usual excellent standards' (International Record Review)

'The 38 Skazki are the most important piano miniatures that Nikolay Medtner composed … there's something discursive and fantastical about these pieces; intensely conservative, Medtner's musical language was always rooted in late 19th-century romanticism, the world that his contemporary and friend Rachmaninov fashioned into a distinctive personal style, but which Medtner preserved almost intact. Yet his piano writing is vivid and superbly idiomatic; there are wonderful things in these Skazki, which are inspired by a wide range of literary sources, from Goethe and Shakespeare (King Lear and Hamlet) to Pushkin and Russian folklore … Hamish Milne is a wonderful guide to this world—his performances are both technically outstanding and musically penetrating' (The Guardian)

'Each one a unique gem of beguiling invention. Notoriously difficult to bring off, Hamish Milne makes some of the most exacting pages in the repertoire sound glorious' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Medtner was sometimes chided for lacking focus, but there's nothing diffuse in these clean-cut and formally lucid readings, which manage to present a wealth of boldly delineated detail without ever obscuring the music's overall trajectories. We're certainly unlikely to get a better complete run of the Skazki in the foreseeable future. Strongly recommended … a revelation: music of fantasy and individuality, and played by Milne with devotion' (Fanfare, USA)

'Milne has recorded many epoch-making Medtner discs and his new collection of the complete Skazki stands out as his finest to date. The richness of ideas and the overwhelming range of expression is Medtner at his finest. Milne eclipses Geoffrey Tozer in his otherwise brilliant Chandos recording and I cannot think of a pianist today who can better this' (Pianist)

'Milne's is a sincere and personal journey, as Medtner's undoubtedly was; the sound is fresh and unfussy, and Milne's own notes perspicuous and heartfelt' (International Piano)

'Completed by flawless recording quality—immediate, vivid and truthful, but never oppressive (dynamics are faithfully captured)—this is a quite outstanding and revelatory issue' (ClassicalSource.com)
The Op 14 pair opens with a Shakespearean tale (Ophelia’s Song). Its Dorian modality lends an air of antiquity; nevertheless it is a Russian Ophelia who sings here. It was originally conceived as a violin piece for Alexander Medtner, the composer’s brother, but its consistently pure three- and four-part harmony suggests a string quartet (for which sketches also exist). Which of the songs and fragments of ill-fated Ophelia was the source of this tale is not specified. Op 14 No 2 (March of the Paladin) is a rhythmical and contrapuntal tour de force, fizzing with all manner of canons and thematic combinations: one of Medtner’s forays (probably Pushkin-inspired) into the realm of medieval chivalry.

from notes by Hamish Milne © 2007

Le diptyque op. 14 s’ouvre sur un conte shakespearien (Ophelia’s Song). Sa modalité dorienne a beau lui donner un air antique, c’est bien une Ophélie russe qui chante ici. À l’origine, Medtner voulait composer une pièce de violon pour son frère Alexander, mais l’harmonie constamment pure, à trois et quatre parties, qu’il utilisa fait plutôt penser à un quatuor à cordes (don’t il existe d’ailleurs des esquisses). Nous ignorons lequel des chants et des fragments de la malheureuse Ophélie inspira ce conte. Tour de force rythmico-contrapuntique, l’op. 14 no 2 (Marche des paladins) bouillonne de canons et de combinaisons thématiques en tous genres—l’une des incursions medtneriennes (probablement inspirée par Pouchkine) dans le royaume de la chevalerie médiévale.

extrait des notes rédigées par Hamish Milne © 2007
Français: Hypérion

Das Paar op. 14 beginnt mit einer Shakespeare-Erzählung (Ophelias Lied). Die dorische Tonalität verleiht ein Gefühl von Antike, aber hier singt dennoch eine russische Ophelia. Ursprünglich als Violinstück für Alexander Medtner, den Bruder des Komponisten konzipiert, deutet der durchweg rein vierstimmige Satz eher ein Streichquartett an (wofür Skizzen existieren). Welches der Lieder und Fragmente der armen Ophelia als Quelle für diese Erzählung diente, wird nicht enthüllt. Op. 14, Nr. 2 (Ritterzug) ist eine rhythmische und kontrapunktische Tour de force, die mit allerlei Kanons und thematischen Kombinationen sprüht, und einer von Medtners (womöglich von Puschkin inspirierten) Ausflüge in die Welt mittelalterlichen Rittertums.

aus dem Begleittext von Hamish Milne © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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