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Arabesques Dithyrambs Elegies CD

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Product details

Disc: 1
1. Stimmungsbilder Op 1
2. Trois Improvisations Op 2
3. Quatre Morceaux Op 4
4. Drei Arabesken Op 7
5. Drei Dithyramben Op 10
Disc: 2
1. Drei Novellen Op 17
2. Vier Lyrische Fragmente Op 23
3. Étude in C minor
4. Trois Morceaux Op 31
5. Drei Hymnen an die Arbeit Op 49
6. Theme and variations in C sharp minor Op 55
7. Zwei Elegien Op 59

Product Description

CD Description

Write one such piece and one can die. So pronounced Rachmaninov, no less, after hearing the second of Medtner's Arabesques. This is just one of the delights in the enticing selection box offered by Hamish Milne, a long-standing and ardent champion of Medtner's music. These two discs explore the many miniatures in size though not in ambition that he wrote throughout his life. The very opening of his Mood Pictures shows a remarkable sophistication for a man barely out of his teens, while the magnificent pair of Elegies forms a fitting conclusion to a set that reminds us that it is sometimes among the miscellaneous works that the greatest gems are to be found.


Milne's dedicated and perceptive playing is of the highest order(here is a pianist not requiring vacuous hype or the adoration of an easily pleased fan-club).I had much pleasure from his previous Hyperion Medtner survey, the complete Skazki. This magazine gives reviewers the opportunity to nominate releases as Outstanding. I am more than happy to do this on this occasion. It's a great listen. --IRR, Mar'12

Having already recorded Medtner's comparatively well-known Skazki (Fairytales) , Hamish Milne here unmasks myriad other miniatures fro the composer. The title of the first set, Mood Pictures, could stand for the whole sequence, because Medtner had a gift for crystallising images within a concise musical frame. There are delights aplenty, and Milne brings out their beguiling expressive range. ***** --Daily Telegraph,10/03/12

Hamish Milne has already recorded one double album of Nikolai Medtner's piano miniatures for Hyperion, the complete Skazki, or Sketches, a collection to which he added throughout his composing life. The present collection ranges just as widely: from Medtner's Op 1, the astonishingly accomplished and mature Stimmungsbilder, written when he was still in his late teens, through sets such as the Three Arabesques Op 7, Dithyrambs Op 10, Lyrical Fragments Op 23 and the curiously named Hymns to Toil Op 49, to his bleak, final piano pieces, the Two Elegies Op 59. As Milne's forthright, utterly secure performances make clear, much of this is strongly characterised music, even if its debts to Chopin and Schumann early on, and to Rachmaninov consistently throughout, are easy to hear. Milne is a wonderfully persuasive advocate for this distinctive and generally underrated music; together with his discs of the Skazki, these performances are a fine complement to his earlier survey of the 14 piano sonatas, which reveal the more expansive side of Medtner's musical thinking. **** --The Guardian 15/3/12

Milne's playing will be surely make in Russians, in particular, listen in awe to such magiserial command and poetic empathy.This is surely in the running for instrumental issue of the year. GRAMOPHONE CHOICE --Gramophone,May'12

INTERNATIONAL PIANO CHOICE. Medtner's music is badly in need of reappraisal and Milne is the man to do it. Aided by Hyperion's sterling, full-presence recording, he immerses the listener in Medtner's perfectly Russian soundworld. It is Milne's terrific sensitivity that impresses. --International Piano, May/June'12

In this second heroic survey of Medtner's elaborate late-Romantic world, Hamish Milne has not left the fantastical narratives of the first instalment's Skaszki behind. Performance **** Recording **** --BBC Music Magazine, June'12

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Important Selection of Medtner's "Short Piano Works" (Milne fills in more gaps in his CRD series) 22 Jun. 2012
By Dace Gisclard - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I've known much of Medtner's music for nearly 40 years. Although I've found it intriguing, it's only lately that I've actually begun to enjoy and be moved by it, rather than merely respecting its grateful piano writing and skillful formal construction. Whether or not the "scales falling from my eyes" is due to the quality of Hamish Milne's playing in this, his latest Medtner anthology, or merely an epiphany on my part, I cannot say (probably the latter), but only recently has Medtner started to make sense to me as MUSIC.

Perhaps part of my problem was that Medtner's piano style has many parallels with that of Rachmaninoff, Liapunov, and other members of the later Russian school. This can lead one to expect certain things, and, if they don't materialize, one can be confused or disappointed. Although there are suggestions of Russian folksong, I've begun to realize that the frequently-encountered description of Medtner as the "Russian Brahms" has a large and very helpful grain of truth in it.

Typical Rachmaninoff/Tchaikovsky/Scriabin long-lined lyrical melodies are indeed lovely, but they don't usually lend themselves with ease or naturalness to motivic development. (This is neither good nor bad--merely true--and of course, there are exceptions--so please don't write in.) Medtner, closer to the German tradition, constructs many of his melodies out of shorter cells that are used to build up lines that he extends as far as his considerable ingenuity can carry him. In his shorter works, this is often from the beginning to the end of the piece, or at least through a structural section. If one is attuned to his particular manner of constructing longer structures out of motivic building blocks, one's attention is held from beginning to end.

I'm not going to try to "sell" Medtner to the uninitiated or unconvinced, but it's important to listen attentively with a "Brahms cum Rachmaninoff" idea in mind. There's a good deal of the same kind of motivic development, piano layout and voicing. As for the resemblances to Rachmaninoff, the style of writing for the piano is similar, but in general the emotional tone is MUCH brighter. The present set would not be a bad place for the curious to start--many of these pieces are more immediately appealing than the sonatas.

On recordings, Milne has been one of this composer's busiest, earliest and most eloquent advocates, as his first series of Medtner recordings for CRD (mostly reissued at bargain price by Brilliant Classics--Nikolai Medtner: Complete Piano Sonatas; Piano Works [Box Set]) will attest. That set is certainly an inexpensive way to add a lot of first-rate Medtner playing to one's collection, but unfortunately, many of the opera are incomplete. In the present Hyperion set (and his earlier set of the "Skazki"--Medtner: The Complete Skazki), Milne completes almost all of the opera that are incomplete in his earlier series for CRD (with, I think, the sole exception of the "Forgotten Melodies"). One could ask for no better guide through this relatively unfamiliar music, and I have nothing but praise for Milne's highly intelligible Medtner playing, anywhere, anytime.

GEEKY COLLECTORS' STUFF FOLLOWS (avoid if you are allergic to this kind of thing): Luckily for Medtner enthusiasts, both Milne's CRD series and Tozer's Chandos series are presently available as MP3 downloads, so it is relatively easy to supplement whatever larger Medtner collections one owns to get a complete solo piano set. In my case, I already had Hamelin's sonatas, Milne's earlier Hyperion set of the "Skazki", and Earl Wild's "Second Improvisation" (Milne's version for CRD is available for download--Nikolai Medtner: Sonata in F minor, Op. 5; Second Improvisation, Op. 4). Thus, I was able to complete my Medtner solo piano collection by purchasing Milne's CRD MP3's of the "Sonatina", and "Pieces for Two Pianos, Op.58" (Medtner: Piano Quintet, Etc.), and Tozer's Chandos "Forgotten Melodies, Op.40" (the easiest way to get this rare opus--The Piano Works of Nikolai Medtner, Vol. 6). Those who prefer Milne's sonatas will get NO argument from me, but buying that set and Milne's Hyperion CD's to get complete opera will result in a great deal of duplication, to say nothing of the fact that one still won't have the complete "Forgotten Melodies".

This set is highly recommended to hard-core Medtner fans, but, as I said, it might also be a good place to begin if one wants to get acquainted with this composer.
My Son Loved It 28 Dec. 2013
By Pamela S. Herzer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
He performs a lot of Medtner pieces. He was excited to have this CD. Thank you for the swift shipping!
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