Nikolai Medtner (1879‒1951)
2 Fairy Tales (Skazki) op. 48
Forgotten Songs op. 38
Piotr Tchaikovsky (1840‒1893)
Doumka from Russian Rustic Scenes op. 59
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873‒1943)
Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor op. 28
Of all people, the last Maharaja of Mysore (India) must be credited with calling the attention of the musical world to the hitherto little-known Russian composer Nikolai Medtner – by financing recordings of his works and establishing the Medtner Society in 1949. For Rachmaninoff, Medtner was simply “the most important composer of his time” – which, considering the fact that the two were contemporaries, means a great deal. Although Medtner was also a proponent of late Russian Romanticism in the Tchaikovsky tradition, his music is characterised by an incredibly vivid, at times even narrative tonal language, and his Forgotten Songs op. 38, composed between 1918 and 1922, exemplify this perfectly. Rachmaninoff wrote his first piano sonata in 1907 at about the same time as his famous Second Symphony. “The sonata is undoubtedly wild and interminably long. I was seduced into writing such a long piece by the idea that governs it – namely three contrasting types from a work of literature.” Not just any work of literature, incidentally, but Goethe’s Faust.