We at Top Ear have never mentioned Medtner before, so it’ll probably strike you for us to announce that Medtner is one of our favorite composers. A friend and contemporary of Rachmaninov, Medtner’s works are full of hauntingly beautiful melodies and awe-inspiring nostalgia. His best works are able to conjure upon the listener the strongest of previously un-felt emotions–his simply astounding posthumous Piano Quintet, for example, could be the last word in sheer spirituality of anything ever composed.
So imagine our excitement when Grand Piano, a new label under Naxos, announced a release of a new set of Medtner’s piano sonatas. Until now there has only been two major sets of Medtner’s complete piano sonatas: the technically unflappable Marc-André Hamelin on Hyperion, and the more intimate Geoffrey Tozer on Chandos. This new set is played by Paul Stewart, who previously recorded Medtner’s violin sonatas on Naxos with Laurence Kayaleh, and who is a professor of piano at the University of Montreal as well as an ardent champion of Medtner’s works. The first album in the series features the early Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 5–one of Jeremy’s favorite sonatas–and the haunting Sonata No. 10 in A minor “Sonata Reminiscenza”, Op. 38 No. 1, a piece that both of us at Top Ear love dearly. The album also includes a Sonatina in G minor which we haven’t heard.
We look forward to this album, and hope that it will be an auspicious start to a competitive and inexpensive new Medtner cycle.