When I started this blog back in 2015, I had a certain idea about who my favourite composers were. After having discussed more than 500 different pieces of music and after having discovered dozens of composers previously unknown to me, it has become increasingly difficult to come up with a list of composers I prefer over others. A few however have struck me from the first moment on. Once I started to listen to such a piece – wham! Not shock and awe, rather awe and delight. Those few composers never let me down. Nikolai Medtner is one of them. Today’s post is about a work for piano and violin, the Sonata Epica No. 3 in E Minor, op. 57, recorded by Hamish Milne (piano) and Manoug Parikian (violin).
Few introductions of a piano concerto have captivated my attention as quickly as Nikolai Medtner’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor, Op. 60. Tension, solemnity, grace – it’s all there. Medtner wrote it between 1940 and 1943, while he moved from London to Birmingham and from Birmingham to the countryside to escape the bombing campaign of the German Luftwaffe. He completed it upon his return to London, a city devastated, but not vanquished.
Morning serenity, a moment of peace, nothing urgent to do. Enjoying the moment. A sonatina was floating around. I read about Stephen Hawking’s passing away. The great astrophysicist – gone. He took millions of readers on a discovery tour to explain the beautiful mysteries of space, the origin of the universe, the drama of the black holes. His book was one of the factors that made me want to become an astronaut or a rocket engineer. Pioneering work in space – that was my dream. Looking for what is beyond the limits of the universe.
The name didn’t ring any bell when I read it on the program of the Philharmonie de Luxembourg back in March 2014. But I didn’t worry about it. A recital by Nikolai Lugansky with Franck, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Prokofiev, Mendelssohn – that sounded promising enough not to give too much thought about a composer I had never heard of. A forgotten composer with forgotten melodies: The last piece Lugansky played that evening was Nikolai Medtner’s Canzona Serenata Op. 38/6 from the piano cycle “Forgotten Melodies I”. A revelation.