Medtner & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos (CD)

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Marc-André Hamelin, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski

A typical release—in so far as there can ever be such a thing—from Marc-André Hamelin, combining a stimulating, unexpected coupling; brilliant new light shed on the familiar; and pianism of the very highest calibre. Not to be missed.

Although their reputations could scarcely be more disparate, Sergei Rachmaninov and Nikolai Medtner make an exceptionally interesting, like-minded pairing. Both were renowned concert pianists, and both wrote superbly for their instrument, unleashing hordes of notes that nevertheless fall gratifyingly under the fingers—at least expert ones, after patient learning. As composers, both were trained in a strict academic tradition, not least under the champion of polyphony in Russia, Sergei Taneyev; yet both rebelled against that schooling and could count themselves as largely self-taught. Both expressed anxiety about the length of their works—Rachmaninov’s fourth piano concerto, dedicated to Medtner, prompted an interesting exchange of letters on the topic. Both remained faithful to the aesthetics and styles they had grown up with (Chopin, Schumann and Liszt being their most conspicuous shared influences), and as a consequence both were hostile to new musical currents around them, not least among their principal fellow-Russian émigrés, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. Neither could stand the Bolshevik regime that turned their world upside-down, yet both experienced intense longing for the homeland.

Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladimir Jurowski

Recording details: Various dates
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: April 2017

Total duration: 82 minutes 9 seconds

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Nicolas Medtner: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 50

  1. I. Toccata: Allegro risoluto
  2. II. Romanza: Andante con moto
  3. III. Divertimento: Allegro risoluto e molto vivace

Sergei Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

4. I. Allegro ma non tanto
5. II. Intermezzo (Adagio)
6. III. Finale (Alla breve)

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The Guardian

22nd March 2017


“Rachmaninov-lite [the Medtner] may be, but it is certainly worth investigating when played as well as this.”

Gramophone Magazine

April 2017

“…no pianist past or present understands Medtner's idiom better…Obviously in vastly superior sound, this is a recording which stands beside the composer's classic account.”

BBC Music Magazine

May 2017


“Expectations are inevitably high as Marc-Andre Hamelin, who marries phenomenal technique with sensitive musicianship, joins Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonia Orchestra, now truly a world-class ensemble….Hamelin’s playing soon takes flight, and the Concerto works its charm, sparkling with virtuosity and – particularly in the finale – with wit. It also receives the most polished orchestral playing it has enjoyed on any recording.”

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