In four connected movements, the Sonata Romantica
dates from 1930, when Medtner was living in Paris (where the music of his bête noire, Stravinsky, was very fashionable). In the atmosphere of the time, the ‘romantic’ of the title, echoing the Romanza first movement, can perhaps be seen as a gesture of defiance by one of the old guard against modernists who rejected the expression of emotion in music. The sonata was written during a desperately difficult period in the composer’s life, the cheque for his recent North-American tour having bounced, leaving him unable to pay his debts (a predicament from which he was rescued by the ever-generous Rachmaninov). These worries seem to be mirrored in the work’s prevailing mood of apprehension and quiet menace.
from notes by Barrie Martyn © 1998