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Angela Lear

Rachfan - Medtner Prologue from Eight Mood Pictures 1/1: Message Board

Rachfan's Comments

This is the “Prologue� from Eight Mood Pictures Op. 1, No. 1 composed between 1895 and 1902 by Nikolai Medtner. In my interpretation the Prologue takes on the atmosphere and imagery of a romantic and sometimes intense reverie.

The piece is embedded in 3 against 2 polyrhythms, and double note figurations abound. The melody is played by both hands, one either mirroring or shadowing the other given the polyrhythms, or sometimes with one hand offering counterpoint to the other. Along with melody, the right hand plays accompaniment too. The left hand similarly attends simultaneously to melody, bass harmonies and accompaniment and covers a surprising compass of the keyboard, sometimes making difficult leaps. At times the left becomes the dominant hand in the flow of the music. I’m reminded of Thalberg’s “three hands� illusion which might have influenced Medtner’s design. These complexities require careful voicing and layering of sound into foreground and background, as well as being alert to voice leading between the hands.

Nearing the midpoint of the recording, with the entrance of Part B the fantasy shifts unexpectedly into a more somber minor mode causing the dreamer a moment of unease--but the music soon blooms into a lush, ultra-romantic and gripping climax which gradually ebbs and gives way to the tranquil reprise of the reverie’s main theme, the piece ending in a gentle double-notes coda fading into the quiet of the night.

I believe that the Prologue works splendidly as a standalone piano solo and need not be played as part of the suite.

Comments welcome!

Piano: Baldwin Model L Artist Grand (6’3�) with lid fully open
Recorder: Korg MR-1000
Microphones: Earthworks TC-20 matched pair of small diaphragm omni-directional condenser mics in A-B configuration

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