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Forgotten Melodies Op.38-39 S


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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
major pianist, minor repertoire March 9 2011
By G. Dorfman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I differ with the first reviewer. Now I can't claim to be a dedicated fan of Medtner even when championed by the marvelous hands of Marc-Andre Hamelin, who recorded all the major piano solos back in the mid 1990's. If what you seek is a full survey, spiked with phenomenal dexterity, an overall lyric approach, virtuous musicianship and a compact focused sound, he's your man. To fault Dershavina for not having his technique is problematic, as no one else on the planet apparently does either; certainly not Hamish Milne or Geoffrey Tozer.
But in Hamelin's hands Medtner remains what he always was, a poor man's Rachmaninoff. Dershavina opts for a more epic approach, seeing him esentially a contrapuntalist romantic (as you might expect from her magnificent Goldberg Variations.) Her speeds in scherzando sections is somewhat slower than Hamelin's, but the music reveals itself to our ears more ably when we are not gasping at the latter's hyper-virtuousity. Dershavina plays a live instrument with a powerful bass which she exploit with relish. Her technique is top drawer in nearly every respect. She also a musician in her bones, the way Annie Fischer, Maria Grinberg and Alicia de Larrocha were. Little in the score escapes her attention. Her only fault is a failure to generate enough of a pianissimmo when useful, and this makes for a certain tedium that when applied to a composer who - let's face it - can be tedious more than a little, makes listening a trial at times.
I suppose I feel at this point that after her Goldberg Variatons for Arte Nova/Sony, every recording she issues is worth buying. Some major recorded repertoire is hopefully in her future.
I am giving the recording 5 stars rather than 4 mainly as a corrective to the amazon other rating which is far too low.
An extraordinary traversal of some jewels of Medtner. Aug. 18 2012
By Yves A. Feder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Ekaterina Derzhavina won a "Diapason - Prix d'Or" with this recording, and rightly so. The subtlety and artistry of her interpretations escapes some listeners who are conditioned by exposure to the prevalent "loud and fast" school of pianism; musical interpretation is not an Olympic race course with technical prowess the only standard. Derzhavina's technical command of the keyboard is extraordinary and permits a poetry of phrasing not often heard these days. The left hand has an impressive voice which illuminates the motion and line of the music, much as her amazing Bach performances have an extra dimension given that propulsive power and her ability to "breathe" to which so many current pianists only give cursory attention. Any current brilliant conservatory graduate can rip through pieces timed by a stopwatch; to lend insight worth hearing provides more musical substance. As with a Shakespeare soliloquy, one can read through it quickly, or give it the insight which the consummate inflexions of an Olivier breathing just that extra bit of rhythm would provide. The silence between notes speaks worlds and is often forgotten. Another great Medtner album by the way is British pianist Hamish Milne's latest Hyperion release, "Arabesques, Dithyrambs, Elegies and other short piano works" (June 2012). Some also find Milne too subtle, but those are also superb interpretations. Both Milne and Derzhavina have been at the forefront of the revival of interest in Medtner's work, organizing festivals in Russia and Europe for the last few years. Highly recommend this Derzhavina recording.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Not in the Running Jan. 13 2009
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I had hoped that this pianist previously unknown to me, a Russian trained at the Gnessin Academy, would reveal more in the music of Medtner, a composer I've come to revere. But this was not to be. It strikes me that Ekaterina Derzhavina does not have either the technique nor the style for Medtner's own brand of pianistic hyper-romanticism. Her left hand tends to be heavy, her pedaling is often too laid on and tends to obscure the beautifully coruscating harmonies of Medtner's music. And when one compares her playing with the likes of Hamelin, Tozer and Milne it comes up short. Add to that a piano that is not evenly regulated and the somewhat reverberant recorded sound and you have a moderately interesting but ultimately unsatisfying two-CD disc which I, at least, will likely not come back to very often. It is true that she plays two rather less-recorded works -- Stimmungsbilder (Medtner's Opus 1) and the Three Pieces, Op. 31, but that is not enough to recommend this otherwise rather dreary issue.

This two-disc set is rather misleadingly labeled 'Piano Rarities'. Not true. There are at least five other recordings of the 'Forgotten Melodies' and three or four of the 'Sonate-Triade.'

Scott Morrison


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