Medtner: Songs (2CDs)

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.

"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."

"Burnside has enlisted singers who can bring an apt kaleidoscope of colour to this repertoire…Medtner is give a new, fresh perspective here, one that embraces his dual interests in Russian and German literature and reveals how it could ignite his imagination to create evocative images as well as keeping the pianist perpetually on his toes."

"There are some stunning young voices on display, too: Justina Gringyte and Robin Tritschler stand out in the Goethe songs, but all six singers are distinctive and idiomatic."

"Bass Nikolay Didenko has terrific weight and authority in Russian...Robin Tritschler is as excellent as ever in his various German song...The baritone Rodion Pogossov has many of the best songs, or perhaps it is just that his vocal quality and ringing ardour make them sound among the best"

"An enthralling issue that should help further the resurgence of interest in the composer's less known output. Sound and annotations are first-rate."


"this is a terrific set which introduces the undeservedly neglected songs of this fascinating composer. These are not easy songs to bring off, as Iain Burnside's booklet note makes clear, not just the technical complexities of the music but also the stylistic and structural idiom. Burnside and his team make us forget any of this, and simply encourage us to listen to the songs in a series of vibrant and striking performances."


Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venue(s): Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh
Recording dates: 22-23 March, 31 May, 1, 7 & 8 June 2016 & 17-19 April 2017
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 2
Number of tracks: 54
Total playing time: 2:23:50
First UK release date: 16 February 2018
Album ID: DCD34177

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