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Angela Lear

RachFan - Medtner Sonata-Elegia 11/2: Message Board

RachFan's Comments

Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951), a Russian Late Romantic composer, composed his ‚ÄúSonata-Elegia‚Ä?, Op. 11, No. 2 between 1904-1908 as part of a triad of sonatas which can be played as a set or individually. The ‚ÄúSonata-Elegia‚Ä? is written in one movement in sonata-allegro form. The set carries a dedication to the memory of Andrei Bratenshi, a relative of Medtner's wife and close friend to Medtner.

We think of an elegy as usually creating a mournful or even funereal mood. As I was preparing this sonata, I came to the realization that the piece is not so much an elegy as it is a musical eulogy giving us glimpses into the life and times of Bratenshi. It contains moments of somberness, romance, pensiveness, nostalgia, anguish, and even jubilation.

Comments welcome.


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Name Date Comment
David 2011-08-25 00:11:58 Hi Mel, thanks for that tip! Wow, Op. 1, No. 1--doesn't get any earlier in his ouvre than that! I'm surprised it is so good a composition. I'll have to check it out. Thanks again.

Mel / dannylux 2011-08-24 19:42:35 I do love his Mood Pictures Op.1 No.1 Prologue: Andante cantabile. It's in Vol.3 of Tozer's Medtner recordings.
David 2011-08-24 18:16:39 Hi Mel,

Where you're not an avid fan of Medtner, I give you a lot of credit for just being open to listening to this piece. I must admit that my jury has been out for a long time on Medtner too. I did considerable searching to find a Medtner piece with sufficient beauty (in my own personal view of musical aesthetics) that would motivate me to play it. This sonata was it! And I'm delighted that you enjoyed it so much. Now I'm keeping an open mind. I'd like to find some of his character pieces that would excite me as well, and when I do, I'll certainly record them. I have plenty of scores and CDs here not to mention what is on YouTube, I just have to wade through it all. Thanks so much for listening!

Mel / dannylux 2011-08-24 15:00:19 I'm not a huge fan of Medtner, but that's just exquisite!
David 2011-08-23 18:10:54 Hi Gerg,

Yes, my first rendition of the piece had some very good moments, but... there were some glaring errors in it too. I re-recorded the piece, and it came out much closer to my standards. So I'm pleased to post it here, and from the response so far, people are enjoying it, especially those who have not encountered this wonderful sonata before. Thanks for your kind words!

David 2011-08-23 18:06:33 Hi Cinnamonbear,

Usually I prefer to play shorter character pieces, my favorite genre for sure. But occasionally I do a big piece, and it was hard to resist this sonata. Thanks so much for the kind praise.

David 2011-08-23 18:03:49 Hi Julian,

Thanks so much for the comments! Rachmaninoff was once at a gathering where Medtner was playing one of his own pieces. At the end, Rachmaninoff exclaimed, "Nobody can tell a story like Nikolai!" So yes, Medtner certainly had a program for this wonderful "Sonata-Elegia". As for Medtner and passionate music, I know exactly what you mean. I play Late Romantic repertoire and looked long and hard to find a Medtner piece with generous melodies and great lyrical beauty. This was the one!
David 2011-08-23 17:57:09 Hi wr,

Yes, I especially love the waltz episodes. Very beautiful writing.
David 2011-08-23 17:55:10 Hi Inlanding,

Thanks for the nice compliment. I really appreciate it!

Inlanding 2011-08-22 11:39:50 You play this beautiful piece with such conviction. Truly remarkable playing in every sense.
wr 2011-08-22 03:35:38 Thanks for this - some lovely moments in there.
Julian (SlatterFan) 2011-08-21 10:06:08 I didn't know that Medtner wrote such passionate music! Wonderfully evocative playing. The opening episode unfolds as naturally as an improvisation. Thanks for your program notes, too. My reaction is that explosive end to the opening episode expresses the shock that Bratenshi is gone, then after a pause to gather, follow reminiscences of his life and times.
Cinnamonbear 2011-08-20 17:51:47 Wonderful performance, David! What a big piece of music! You convey such sweeping emotion through it. Nicely done!
Gerg 2011-08-20 12:49:05 You have really worked this over, haven't you? Your recording from earlier this year (or late last year) sounded quite fine, but this one is played with even more confidence and authority.

An "Elegy" - in contradistinction to the form, this one ends in jubilation.