Movement 1: Allegretto
Movement 2: Introduzione: Mesto
Movement 3: Finale: Allegro
Both the brief second movement, Introduzione, and the Finale are headed by quotations from the poem itself: ‘Satan stole away’, ‘And the Angels came’, charting the triumph of righteousness over evil. The malevolent ‘satanic’ theme of the Introduzione is gradually rebuffed as the movement proceeds by fragments of another melody, one that is at last heard in full as the serene second subject of the Finale. One of Medtner’s most beautiful inspirations, this was clearly special for the composer; he used it again in two other works with religious overtones, a setting of Pushkin’s poem The Muse and the Piano Quintet. After a stern fugal episode based on the satanic theme, the music culminates in a joyous restatement of the second theme and the sonata’s opening, against a background of pealing bells.
from notes by Barrie Martyn © 1998