Notes and Editorial Reviews
Here is a declaration of musical faith if ever there was one. No pianist has done more for Medtner's reputation than Hamish Milne. [His] playing will surely make Russians, in particular, listen in awe to such magisterial command and poetic empathy. This is surely in the running for instrumental issue of the year.
– Gramophone [5/2012]
Hamish Milne’s long advocacy on behalf of Nikolai Medtner’s piano music continues to bear fruit in the form of first-rate recordings, from his extensive series of CRD releases to 2007’s complete Skazi (Fairy Tales) and the present Hyperion collection of short pieces. In my review of the Skazi I praised Milne’s
affinity for and sensitivity to the composer’s polyphonic rigor and subtle harmonic palette, as well as his luminous, full-bodied sonority. These qualities remain present in Milne’s work.
Compare, for example, Ektaterina Derzhavina’s impulsive and fervent yet casually accented readings of the eight Op. 1 Mood Pictures alongside Milne’s no less committed and virtuosic yet more classically contained interpretations. While Milne’s CRD recording of the C minor Etude projects the swirling right-hand passagework with power and solidity, his slightly slower Hyperion remake emphasizes the bass lines. The three Hymns to Toil also emerge with greater breadth, deliberation, and legato richness this time around (Medtner’s own recording of the first Hymn also reveals these interpretive characteristics).
In the imaginative C-sharp minor Theme and Variations some listeners might prefer Nikolai Demidenko’s Hyperion traversal for its suppler soft playing and harder-hitting sweep in chordal passages, although Milne’s assured, unified interpretation surely satisfies. A stronger sense of line and more generous pedaling distinguish the second of the three Op. 17 Dithyrambs from Milne’s slightly more episodic and square CRD version. As always, Milne’s scholarly, enthusiastic annotations add further value to a valuable, well engineered release that every Medtner fan should seriously consider.
Works on This Recording
Arabesques (3), Op. 7 by Nikolai Medtner
Hamish Milne (Piano)
Period: 20th Century
Written: ?1904; Russia
Featured Sound Samples
Stimmungsbilder (Mood Pictures): No 1: Prolog. Andante cantabile
Dithyrambes: No 1: Maestoso severamente
Elegies: No 2: Andante con moto
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