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Track(s) taken from CDA67491/2

Skazki, Op 35


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: 16 minutes 43 seconds


'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)
Op 35 No 1 opens in ceremonial style with the velvety sonority of a brass ensemble. What follows is a hymn of faith, doubt and salvation: a ‘Hosanna’ was the terse description of the religious and political philosopher Ivan Ilyin. The prancing whimsicality of Op 35 No 2 is enlivened by choleric interjections in its middle section and, while Op 35 No 3 may not be among the finest tales, its evocation of a time beyond memory is entirely Medtnerian and, by virtue of its modal austerity and evolving narrante style, far removed from the numerous confections ‘in ancient style’ of more sentimental romantics. A quotation from the storm scene in Shakespeare’s King Lear heads the score of Op 35 No 4 and says all that needs to be said (‘Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!’), its tumultuous rise and fall evoking both the fury of the storm and the rage of the demented monarch.

from notes by Hamish Milne © 2007

L’op. 35 no 1 s’ouvre dans un style cérémoniel avec la sonorité veloutée d’un ensemble de cuivres. Vient ensuite une hymne de foi, de doute et de salut, un «Hosanna» pour reprendre la laconique description du philosophe religieux et politique Ivan Ilyin. La pétulante fantaisie de l’op. 35 no 2 est égayée de colériques interjections (section centrale). Même s’il ne figure pas parmi les meilleurs contes, l’op. 35 no 3 évoque le temps par-delà la mémoire d’une manière toute medtnerienne, son austérité modale et son style narrante le distinguant nettement des nombreuses friandises «en style ancien» produites par des romantiques plus sentimentaux. Une citation tirée de la scène de la tempête du Roi Lear de Shakespeare figure en en-tête de la partition de l’op. 35 no 4 et dit tout ce qu’il y a à dire («Blow winds, and crack your cheeks!», «Soufflez, vents, et faites craquer vos joues!»), les hauts et les bas tumultueux de la musique évoquant la furie de la tempête comme la rage du monarque dément.

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

Op. 35, Nr. 1 beginnt in zeremoniellem Stil mit der geschmeidigen Sonorität eines Blechbläserensembles, dem eine Hymne über Glauben, Zweifel und Erlösung folgt: ein „Hosanna“, wie es der religiöse und politische Philosoph Iwan Iljin kurz und bündig beschrieb. Die tänzelnde Launischkeit von op. 35, Nr. 2 wird durch cholerische Einwürfe in seinem Mittelteil belebt und während op. 35, Nr. 3 womöglich nicht zu seinen besten Märchen gehört, ist die Evokation einer Zeit jenseits des Gedenkens ganz und gar Medtnerisch und durch seine modale Strenge und den sich entfaltenden narrante-Stil weit von den zahlreichen Konfektionen „in antikem Stil“ von sentimentaleren Romantikern entfernt. Ein Zitat aus der Sturmszene in Shakespeares König Lear steht der Partitur von op. 35, Nr. 4 voran und teilt uns alles mit, was notwendig ist („Blast Winde und berstet eure Backen!“)—das tumultuöse Auf und Ab evoziert sowohl die Gewalt des Sturmes als auch den Zorn des irrsinnigen Monarchen.

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

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