Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

NICOLAI MEDTNER Second Improvisation (in form of variations) Op. 47 Sonate-Idylle Op. 56 Vergessene Weisen Op. 39  Earl Wild (piano) CHESKY AD1 [66.40]


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This disc, like too many others from Chesky, has been lost in the flood of releases which have blessed the classical music market for the last ten years. It is a pleasure to be able to draw attention to it and to recommend it with every warmth.

Wild's performance emphasises the pearls, contentment and idyll of the music. Hamelin's (Hyperion - only the sonatas) sprightly fiery fantasy and Tozer's (Chandos) intensity may be missing but Medtner's art sustains many approaches. Wild's performances bring out, in the seventeen variations, the great cathedrals of sound, the incantatory bells, the ebb and flow of the tides and the hymns and dithyrambs of marine blue and the slatey depths of the ocean. The sea and water are strong presences in the Op. 47 work.

The Sonate-Idylle's first movement sings in accents not far removed from Haydn and Mozart but a stronger and vibrant vein of romance is tapped in the allegro. Hearing the second movement of Op. 56 makes me lament all the more that Wild did not record the three Medtner concertos when he was in London with Horenstein back in 1965.

The Forgotten Melodies of Op. 39 take in a murkily deep Meditazione suggesting the floating hair of a drowned girl, a ghostly Chopin, a Rachmaninovian spirit melting into and out of Schumann and sad faerie bells. The final Sonata Tragica swells and sways with riptides and eddies.

The recording was made by Wild in Columbus, Ohio in February 1988. Wild uses a Baldwin piano. Good annotation by Annette and Jeffrey Chesky.

This is a very special collection whose beauties lie in slow-stepping fantasy rather than heroic display.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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