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Track(s) taken from CDA67491/2

Skazki, Op 20


Hamish Milne (piano)
Recording details: October 2006
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: April 2007
Total duration: 6 minutes 37 seconds

Other recordings available for download

Steven Osborne (piano)


'They're among [Medtner's] characteristic utterances and include many of his finest inspirations. Some are simply masterpieces … it's excellent to have a complete collection from Hamish Milne, one of our leading Medtnerians, as a welcome counterpart to Marc-André Hamelin's complete Sonatas, also on Hyperion. Milne is in complete technical and expressive command, bringing to them the fleetness and rhythmic spring, the varied character and wit, that all Medtner's music needs. He crests the summists of their virtuosity with such ease one can concentrate throughout on the music, not the pianist, as Medtner intended … he expounds the composer's thought with complete identification and sympathy' (BBC Music Magazine)

'From the very first of these skazki ('tales'), I was hooked. Much of this is to do with the advocacy of Hamish Milne, who has already recorded some of this repertoire for the CRD label, is regarded by many as the composer's greatest living champion and, as his booklet note emphasises, is determined to see through the prejudice that has dogged the composer's reputation since his death in 1951. His playing has the muscularity to cope with Medtner's often challenging rhythmic writing—listen to the bracing 'Dance Tale' from Op 48 of 1925—while this vigour is counterbalanced by a sensitivity to the music's poetry and lyricism. Indeed, his sympathy for Medtner's ever-amenable style—echoing Rachmaninov and Debussy at times—ensures that the ear is constantly engaged' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This is a major, important release … Milne has been recording Medtner for quite some time now … and his detailed and very well written booklet notes are on the same high level as his pianism … no-one plays these musical Tales as well as Hamish Milne' (American Record Guide)

'Hamish Milne's performances maintain a high level of consistency, presenting Medtner's ideas with great clarity. His playing has a crispness and rhythmic vitality that serves the music well. Medtner's various moods are all capably handled … an impressive achievement and eminently recommendable recording … recorded sound is up to Hyperion's usual excellent standards' (International Record Review)

'The 38 Skazki are the most important piano miniatures that Nikolay Medtner composed … there's something discursive and fantastical about these pieces; intensely conservative, Medtner's musical language was always rooted in late 19th-century romanticism, the world that his contemporary and friend Rachmaninov fashioned into a distinctive personal style, but which Medtner preserved almost intact. Yet his piano writing is vivid and superbly idiomatic; there are wonderful things in these Skazki, which are inspired by a wide range of literary sources, from Goethe and Shakespeare (King Lear and Hamlet) to Pushkin and Russian folklore … Hamish Milne is a wonderful guide to this world—his performances are both technically outstanding and musically penetrating' (The Guardian)

'Each one a unique gem of beguiling invention. Notoriously difficult to bring off, Hamish Milne makes some of the most exacting pages in the repertoire sound glorious' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Medtner was sometimes chided for lacking focus, but there's nothing diffuse in these clean-cut and formally lucid readings, which manage to present a wealth of boldly delineated detail without ever obscuring the music's overall trajectories. We're certainly unlikely to get a better complete run of the Skazki in the foreseeable future. Strongly recommended … a revelation: music of fantasy and individuality, and played by Milne with devotion' (Fanfare, USA)

'Milne has recorded many epoch-making Medtner discs and his new collection of the complete Skazki stands out as his finest to date. The richness of ideas and the overwhelming range of expression is Medtner at his finest. Milne eclipses Geoffrey Tozer in his otherwise brilliant Chandos recording and I cannot think of a pianist today who can better this' (Pianist)

'Milne's is a sincere and personal journey, as Medtner's undoubtedly was; the sound is fresh and unfussy, and Milne's own notes perspicuous and heartfelt' (International Piano)

'Completed by flawless recording quality—immediate, vivid and truthful, but never oppressive (dynamics are faithfully captured)—this is a quite outstanding and revelatory issue' (Classical Source)
Play ‘… as if appealing to someone with a fervent entreaty’ was how Medtner advised his pupil Edna Iles to approach Op 20 No 1, an outpouring of world sorrow with an overwhelming climax marked con disperazione. Its companion, Op 20 No 2 (Campanella), a doom-laden tale of pile-driving rhythms and relentless fatalism, is so far from the tintinnabulations of Liszt/Paganini that one of its finest exponents, Boris Berezovsky, likens its ‘riffs’ to hard rock. Medtner insists that it should be played absolutely without rubato and adds, in a footnote, that it should be regarded not as a tale about a bell but as one told by a bell, in whose chime ‘can be heard calamity and terror’. The multi-talented Leonid Sabaneiev likened Medtner in this mood to ‘a gnome, a Nibelung seeking refuge in the dark fissures of the earth’, a description that would not have displeased the composer who insisted that artists must ‘earn their works by hard labour, like miners, and not try to pluck them like flowers by the wayside’.

from notes by Hamish Milne © 2007

Jouer «comme si l’on implorait quelqu’un en une fervente supplique»: voilà comment Medtner conseillait à son élève Edna Iles d’aborder l’op. 20 no 1, un épanchement de désolation universelle doté d’un accablant apogée marqué con disperazione. Son pendant, l’op. 20 no 2 (Campanella), est un sinistre conte aux rythmes assommants et au fatalisme implacable si éloigné des tintinnabulations de Liszt/Paganini que l’un de ses meilleurs défenseurs, Boris Berezovsky, apparente ses «riffs» au hard rock. Medtner insiste sur le fait qu’il faut jouer ces pages absolument sans rubato, ajoutant dans une note en bas de page qu’il s’agit là non d’un conte sur une cloche mais d’un conte raconté par une cloche, dont le carillon «donne à entendre la calamité et la terreur». Homme aux talents multiples, Leonid Sabaneiev compara ce Medtner-là à «un gnome, un Nibelung cherchant refuge dans les sombres fissures de la terre», une description que le compositeur n’eût pas reniée—les artistes, insistait-il, devaient «gagner leurs œuvres au prix d’un travail de forçat, tels des mineurs, et non chercher à les cueillir comme des fleurs sur le bas-côté».

extrait des notes rédigées par Hamish Milne © 2007
Français: Hypérion

„… als ob [sie] jemanden mit glühender Eindringlichkeit bitte“ war Medtners Anweisung an seine Schülerin Edna Iles, wie sie op. 20, Nr. 1 spielen sollte, einem Erguss einer Welt des Kummers mit einem überwältigenden, con disperazione markierten, Höhepunkt. Sein Gegenstück, op. 20, Nr.2 (Campanella), eine verhängnisschwangere Geschichte voller rammender Rhythmen und unerbittlicher Fatalität ist so weit vom virtuosen Geklingel eines Liszt oder Paganini entfernt, dass Boris Bereszowsky, einer seiner besten Interpreten, es mit den „Riffs“ in Hard Rock vergleicht. Medtner insistiert, dass es ohne jegliches Rubato gespielt werden soll, und fügt in einer Fussnote dazu, dass es weniger eine Geschichte über eine Glocke sei, sondern von einer Glocke erzählt würde, in deren Geläut „Unheil und Terror zu hören sind“. Der vielseitig talentierte Leonid Sabanejew verglich Medtner in dieser Stimmung mit einem „Zwerg, einem Nibelungen, der in den dunklen Klüften der Erde Zuflucht sucht“, eine Beschreibung, die dem Komponisten selbst gefallen hätte, der darauf bestand, Künstler sollten „ihre Werke durch harte Arbeit verdienen, wie Bergarbeiter, und nicht versuchen, sie wie Blumen vom Wegesrand zu pflücken“.

aus dem Begleittext von Hamish Milne © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

Other albums featuring this work

Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Sonatas
Studio Master: CDA67936Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Medtner: Demidenko plays Medtner
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