Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Intermezzo: Allegro
Movement 3: Largo divoto
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro risoluto
As elsewhere in Medtner’s work, the music’s formal design also has a spiritual dimension, here hinted at by the composer’s expression marks. Thus the turbulent soul-searching of the first movement, neither resolved by its end nor relieved by the ensuing quietly menacing Intermezzo, is followed by a Largo divoto, which, as the heading suggests, is a kind of prayerful meditation, a spiritual struggle from uncertainty to hope in prayer (a passage marked pietoso), through further uncertainty to a fervent climax in further prayer (con entusiasmo). At the end of the movement confidence ebbs, but the consequent agitation of the first theme of the Finale is assuaged by the measured and pious tones of the second, marked religioso, which proves to be a major-key version of the second theme of the first movement. The material is worked out at length in the development, where the composer’s contrapuntal and fugal skills are given full rein. In the recapitulation a final interlude of uncertainty and dejection is swept away by the affirmative restatement of both themes and the pealing of bells in jubilant celebration. The struggle has been won.
from notes by Barrie Martyn © 1998