8 September 2023

  • Nikolai Medtner
    The Muse

Forgotten Melodies I op. 38, 4 Lyrical Fragments op. 23, Skazki (6 Tales) op. 51, The Muse op. 29 No. 1. Vittorio Forte (piano).

Cover of the album “The Muse”, works by Nikolaï Medtner by Vittorio Forte (piano).

Could Nikolai Medtner’s long purgatory have ended? This is what this program recorded in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to testify with force and sensitivity. The Russian composer and pianist prodigy has already known illustrious performers such as Emil Gilels, Eugene Istomin, or Vladimir Horowitz. But the music of this exacerbated late romantic, written on the paths of exile – from Germany to France, then from the United States where he joined his friend Rachmaninov, to London, where he died in 1951 –, does not has not yet conquered the place it deserves. The Calabrian pianist, Vittorio Forte, highlighted the Forgotten melodies (op. 38). Composed between 1919 and 1922, these eight pieces evoke the reminiscence of ancient joys – village festival, dance in the woods, Venetian masquerade – passed down through memory. A swing between momentum and nostalgia that already animates the four Lyrical fragments, written before 1911 in Russia (Medtner’s music will then be banned in the USSR until Stalin’s death). Childhood rhymes, the six Skazki op. 51 (1928), dedicated to Cinderella and Ivan the Fool, a popular Russian character, whose naivety undermines credibility – no doubt a duplicate of Medtner. Vittorio Forte ends with a contemporary transcription of his vintage The Muse – first of seven poems after Pouchkine, created in 1913 – which rightly gives its title to this beautiful album. Marie Aude Roux

1CD Odradek Records.

  • Diotima Quartet
    Metamorphosis Ligeti

György Ligeti: String Quartet No. 1, “Nocturnal Metamorphoses”; Andante and Allegretto, String Quartet No. 2. Diotima Quartet.

Cover of the album “Metamorphosis Ligeti”, by the Diotima Quartet.

Devoted to the three works for string quartets written by György Ligeti (1923-2006) over a fairly short period (less than two decades), this disc could strike the three blows of the celebration, hitherto discreet, of the centenary of the birth by the composer of Hungarian origin, so edifying is his program and his unsurpassable interpretation. THE String Quartet No. 1, “Nocturnal Metamorphoses” (1954) consists of a series of sketches which, between dazzling visions and inextinguishable mirages, sometimes reveal grotesque figures à la James Ensor. Sensitive to the variations of textures, dear to the composer, the performance of Diotima is stunning. THE String Quartet No. 2 (1968) offers the quintessence of Ligeti’s own expression, radical without being extremist, aspiring to adventure and not to experimentation. Proposed between these XXL milestones of XX chamber musice century, the diptych Andante and Allegretto (1950) allows us to appreciate the path traveled by Ligeti to distinguish himself from his model, Béla Bartok, while managing to equal him. Pierre Gervasoni

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