Notes and Editorial Reviews
Following the rapturous reception given to his complete Rachmaninov: Songs on Delphian, pianist Iain Burnside set out to bring together six regular collaborators in a survey of songs by Nikolai Medtner. Born into a family that was both prosperous and well read, Medtner was deeply immersed in the heady intellectualism of the era. More than any other genre, his songs exemplify his dual German/Russian heritage, manifest in his devotion to both Goethe and Pushkin. Musically, too, there are paradoxes, with the self-proclaimed defiant conservative’s work shot through with moments of striking modernity. Pianistically, he was a giant – the writing makes Herculean demands of the player – yet he is often most eloquent when simplest. From an output of over 100 songs, Burnside has selected just over fifty, carefully matching them to his chosen singers to reveal a compositional voice that is itself unique.
Rodion Pogossov has some of the treasures here, best of all the Pushkin (rather than Goethe) Winter Evening with its rich pianistic storm-surge superbly handled, like all else, by Burnside. Medtner is a true original, closer to Wolf than Rachmaninov in depth and philosophy, and a surprising companion if you listen to each disc at a single sitting, which you can, with pleasure.
– BBC Music Magazine