Movement 1: Canzona: Canterellando; con fluidezza
Movement 2: Danza: Allegro scherzando
Movement 3: Ditirambo: Festivamente
The G major Danza typifies two of Medtner’s salient idiosyncrasies: in its first section, the habit of repeating a pithy idea whose length is at odds with that of the bar, so that immediate (in this case, whimsical) tension and disjunction arise between actual and expected accentuation; and, in the rapid ensuing section, a predilection for groupings of three quavers in contradiction to the prevailing crotchet pulse. Here, the pattern is generally arranged as 3+3+2, thus ‘correcting’ matters at prescribed intervals. In many works, however, Medtner happily let the threes prevail for longer stretches, creating anarchic and dramatic conflicts between the ostensible rhythmic ‘vessel’ and what was poured into it. The movement ends with a brief reprise of both sections in turn.
Beginning with imposing bell effects, the B major Ditirambo admits more wistfulness than either its title (denoting a classical dance or hymn in honour of Dionysus) or its direction Festivamente might imply, and shows the composer’s fondness for synthesizing earlier material as well as introducing new, to create a satisfying escalation of both craft and rhetoric. Rhythmic sleights-of-hand from the preceding movements surface periodically in ‘augmented’ form, their note-lengths doubled to suggest progressive broadening towards some grand peroration. However, the Sonata ends quietly, in a fashion echoed many years later at the conclusion of Medtner’s final piano sonata, the Sonate-Idylle.
from notes by Francis Pott © 2013