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Piano Concerto No 1 in C minor, Op 33

Boosey & Hawkes Ltd, London

Of the three Medtner piano concertos the first is remarkable for its inspirational inner content, the beauty of its melodies and the grand scale of its structure. It is probably his most outstanding work. He began it in 1914 and the first performance took place in Moscow on 12 May 1918, the composer as soloist under Koussevitsky.

The horrible events of the First World War are, perhaps unavoidably, reflected in the work. Russian and German cultures meant equally much to Medtner and the war between the two countries developed into a personal tragedy for him. The Concerto is a grandiose, one-movement construction, written in sonata form, where the extended development of each section compensates for the lack of the traditional division into movements. Slow and scherzo-like episodes sound almost like the middle movement of a symphony and the coda, which is thematically and dynamically rich, serves as a finale. The originality of the Concerto’s form is increased by the interfusion of two structural principles: the sonata form gives the work its general contours while the variation form imparts diversity, contrast and a more fragmentary structure.

The work opens with four introductory exclamations anticipating the appearance of the main theme, full of heroic yet tragic pathos. The thematic concentration of the Concerto’s musical material is remarkable: the main theme serves as the source for the two lyrical subjects, as well as for every other important section. The development is very unusual: it consists of a theme and a cycle of variations. Here the composer develops fragments of all the main themes of the Concerto with considerable polyphonic skill. The short recapitulation is extremely dynamic, and the coda presents the last climax of the Concerto. Medtner somewhat delays the outcome by leading the themes through a number of odd modulations and unusual harmonies: only at the very end do we hear a triumphant hymn in C major, followed by three final bell-like ringing strokes on the piano.

from notes by Dmitri Alexeev © 1994

Medtner composa le Premier Concerto en trois ans, le complétant en 1917 et le dédiant à la mémoire de sa mère. La première performance eut lieu à Moscou le 12 mai 1918, avec comme soliste le compositeur lui-même; le chef d’orchestre était Serge Koussevitsky. La partition fut publiée par la maison d’édition de l’État en 1921, et une réduction pour deux pianos fut publiée l’année suivante. Cet enregistrement est basé sur la première édition. Medtner avait, dès 1922, déjà choisi de quitter la Russie, mais il y retourna pour y donner plusieurs concerts en 1927, et présenta son Deuxième Concerto pour piano (Opus 40, aussi en do mineur) à Moscou. L’œuvre fut dédiée à Rachmaninov. En retour, Rachmaninov dédia son Quatrième Concerto à Medtner.

extrait des notes rédigées par Robert Matthew-Walker © 1994
Français: Isabelle Dubois

Medtner brachte drei Jahre mit der Arbeit am Ersten Konzert zu, vollendete es 1917 und widmete es dem Gedenken an seine Mutter. Die erste Aufführung, mit dem Komponisten in der Rolle des Solisten, fand am 12. Mai 1918 in Moskau statt; sie wurde von Serge Koussewitsky dirigiert. Die Partitur wurde 1921 vom Staatlichen Musikverlag veröffentlicht, und eine verkürzte Bearbeitung für zwei Klaviere wurde im folgenden Jahr herausgegeben. Die vorliegende Aufnahme basiert auf der ersten Ausgabe. 1922 hatte sich Medtner bereits dazu entschieden, Rußland zu verlassen, kehrte jedoch 1927 für mehrere Konzerte zurück und gab zu jenem Zeitpunkt in Moskau die Erstaufführung seines Zweiten Konzerts (Opus 40, ebenfalls in C-Moll). Das Werk trug eine Widmung für Rachmaninow. Rachmaninow wiederum widmete Medtner sein Viertes Konzert.

aus dem Begleittext von Robert Matthew-Walker © 1994
Deutsch: Angelika Malbert


Medtner: Piano Concerto No 1 & Piano Quintet

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