Premiered by the composer and Sir Adrian Boult at the Royal Albert Hall, 19 February 1944, promoted by the PRS, the wartime Third Concerto, or ‘Concerto-Ballade’, is dedicated to the Maharajah of Mysore, ‘with deep gratitude for the appreciation and furtherance of my work’. Begun in London and completed in Warwickshire between circa 1940 and 1943, it is in three movements played without a break—the first flexible in tempo, the second an Interludium, ‘Allegro’ yet at the same time ‘molto sostenuto e misterioso’, the third an ‘Allegro molto’ climaxing in a coda more temporally fluid. Ending in E major but for much of the time oscillating unpredictably between E minor and G major, the Third is like a wonderfully free fantasia, a written-out improvisation with orchestra. Manifestly, the first movement, in its surges of imagination and turbulence is a person talking—at once considered yet free, determined yet yielding, long in sentence, short in sentence, elastic in phrasing and cadence. Calling it enchanted, it ‘moves in a kind of dream world’, Holt says, ‘with occasional intrusions of human passion and conflict’. Its structure defies ready explanation: concerned with sensations of ebb and flow, it is so remarkably veiled and aurally unapparent that to reveal it at all might only destroy it. Externally, its most obvious feature is the presence of a resolute motto theme, an idée fixe which, in best Berlioz-Tchaikovsky tradition, Medtner brings back in the Interludium and finale to impart to the whole a unity musically and psycho-dramatically important.
from notes by Ates Orga © 1992