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Medtner, Rachmaninov: Music For Two Pianos


Release Date: 08/11/2009 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55337   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Nikolai MedtnerSergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nikolai DemidenkoDmitri Alexeev
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This has been a renowned disc since its first issue at full price in 1994. It has since then held its premium place in the catalogue with good cause. It's also generously and intrepidly packed. The Rachmaninov element is seasoned by the two piano pieces by Medtner. They launch the disc in a flurry of poetry and Russian chivalric élan. The two works date from the time of the Third Piano Concerto but tend to more extroversion. They were premiered in 1940 by the composer and Arthur Alexander and were recorded by the composer with Benno Moiseiwitsch for the Medtner Society series. Strange how much they, on occasion, reflect the exuberance of Arthur Benjamin's Jamaican Rumba.

The Rachmaninov pieces are done with verve and a
Read more sort of volatile and explosive joy that expels any air of the mundane. We know we are in the presence of two princes of virtuosity in the second movement of the Second Suite. The Russian Rhapsody - first revived on disc by Ashkenazy and Previn for Decca - is pleasingly done. It dates from 1891 and reflects Rachmaninov still under the influence of Borodin though there are intimations of the later maturity in the second part of the Rhapsody. In the case of the Symphonic Dances I have been listening recently to the Magalhaes-Schumann duo on the TwoPianists label. I found their version of the op.45 work under-characterised and lacking that spirited impact and zest that I found in Kondrashin's recording of the orchestral version. Demidenko and Alexeev are much much closer. They catch the work’s swirl and drama with a keen blade. There’s a good sense of dialogue, of give and take, of dynamic variety and climactic structuring.

The erudite but far from fusty notes are by Ates Orga. As Orga says it is dumbfounding that when the composer proposed to RCA that he and Horowitz should record the Symphonic Dances RCA rejected it. One of history's great might-have-beens.

A generous disc, imaginatively produced and presenting music played with volatile flair and edgy venom.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Knight Errant, Op. 58 no 2 by Nikolai Medtner
Performer:  Nikolai Demidenko (Piano), Dmitri Alexeev (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1940; France 
Venue:  The Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England 
Length: 11 Minutes 20 Secs. 
2.
Russian Round Dance, Op. 58 no 1 by Nikolai Medtner
Performer:  Dmitri Alexeev (Piano), Nikolai Demidenko (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1940; France 
Venue:  The Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 36 Secs. 
3.
Suite for 2 Pianos no 2, Op. 17 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nikolai Demidenko (Piano), Dmitri Alexeev (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900-1901; Russia 
Venue:  The Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England 
Length: 21 Minutes 35 Secs. 
4.
Russian Rhapsody for 2 Pianos in E minor by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nikolai Demidenko (Piano), Dmitri Alexeev (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; Russia 
Venue:  The Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
5.
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Nikolai Demidenko (Piano), Dmitri Alexeev (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940; USA 
Venue:  The Snape Maltings, Suffolk, England 
Length: 32 Minutes 6 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 The Essence of Russian Piano Power February 9, 2012 By bess holloway (Boulder, CO) See All My Reviews "To think that I nearly missed this collection! Recently I heard a live partial performance of the Suite No 2 and was swept up by its energy, just had to hear it totally. This CD is another tremendous bargain, both money wise and content wise. The inclusion of the two Medtner works makes it a double treat. The two artists are masters who can portray these musical gems as close to perfection as humanly possible. " Report Abuse
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