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Classical

Medtner Plays Medtner, Vol. 1

[Melodya]

3.5 stars

Medtner is the hip piano composer these days, up there with other thorny esoteric piano composers like Scriabin and Charles Valentin Alkan. Arcane though his music might be, though, I hope it does not offend the master’s many fans to say that it is also pleasant. His “Fairy Tales” can make you think of Schumann at times, of Chopin other times, and occasionally Rachmaninoff. Sometimes you get a klezmer sound – once, Medtner gives us what sounds almost exactly like “A fiddler on the roof ...”

Just to round out the exotic picture, these recordings were made possible in 1946 through the generosity of an Indian maharajah, and lucky we are, because Medtner plays with an attractively unassuming virtuosity and the clearly challenging music often takes on a sensuous beauty. Besides the eight short “Fairy Tales” the album includes Three Novellas, Op. 17; Three Pieces, Op. 31; “Forgotten Melodies,” Cycle I, II and III. “Morning Song,” from Cycle II, is especially lovely. The sound is clear enough throughout, if attractively muffled.

– Mary Kunz Goldman