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Medtner Skazi/Tale Op. 8 No. 1

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Mark, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. Mark

    Mark New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello All,

    It's been a while since I posted anything new, but I just worked up the first of Medtner's Op. 8 Skazi. I think it's one of Medtner's most interesting pieces (along with the second in the set). Both of Op. 8 begin and end with the same 6-chord progression, giving the two of them a sort of sonata-like unity. No. 1 is the more introverted of the two - it does have moments of outgoing cantabile, but much of it is made up of dramatic, tiptoeing tension, with hemiolas underpinned by bass ostinato. Technically it's not a particularly hard piece, but defining all the articulations that Medtner calls for in the various lines is quite tricky and takes some thinking. Supposedly, the young Prokofiev learned Medtner's Op. 8 and commented that his fingers ached from playing it - probably more from the 2nd in the set than the 1st. It'll still be a few months before I record that tour-de-force toccata!

    Hope you enjoy,
    Mark

    P.S. Skazi sounds to me like a plural Russian term for "tales." Does anybody know, if this is right, what the singular is?

    Medtner - Skazki Op. 8 No. 1
     
  2. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    Very nicely played, Mark. Strict in rhythm and tempo,yet expressive.
    This sequence of chords, with some pauses in them, is so so Medtnerian... (if that word exists...)
    but I must say I never played any Medtner. These days I downloaded the score of the Night Wind, but it would take years for me to read those 70 pages... :roll:


    You do a pedal diminuendo at the first chord, right?
     
  3. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    I know beans about Russian, but I first thought it means "sketch".
    hehehe
     
  4. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    It's Skazki, not Skazi. I think the singular is Skazka.

    Good to see some more Medtner on the site :!:

    This is one of my (many) favourite Medner sets. It has been on my shortlist for a long time - and will probaby remain there for a while longer :) Indeed that no.2 is one belter of a piece, one of Medtner's most viscerally exciting (and that says something). I'll be eagerly awaiting your take on it.

    This one is a well-considered and meticulous performance. Nothing much to nitpick on, only that I don't hear the RH E-flat in bar 2, and I think your appogiaturas are a bit too loud, obscuring the melody. The piano sounds great in the bass but rather strident in the treble - though that could be my crappy headphones. Good work anyway.
     
  5. Mark

    Mark New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Felipe! I'm indebted to Medtner's own recording of this piece in working out temporal details. Although he rushes the beginning a bit much I think, he maintains a fairly even pulse throughout while still giving the cadences ample breathing space.

    I've never called it a pedal diminuendo, but yes, I suppose that's what I'm doing.

    Yep, my teacher tells me the same thing. It's actually a bit tricky to play such big appogiaturas quietly. I'm still working on that. Thanks for the compliment though. Glad you like this set a lot too. I've also recently become obsessed with the March of the Palladin Op. 14 No. 2. Another driving toccata - apparently that's what I like best in Medtner.

    Thanks Cherub - I'll be working on it!
     
  6. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    And don't forget Op.20/2, the mother of all driving toccatas :shock:
     
  7. juufa72

    juufa72 New Member Piano Society Artist

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    :x :wink:
     
  8. Rachfan

    Rachfan Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Mark,

    Although I'm not yet a full-fledged Medtner fan, I do listen to his music presented here on the Internet and on CDs. I believe your playing of this piece is artistic, and you seem to have a very good grasp of the Medtner idiom. High compliments for that! As I listened to the music, particularly the bass harmony figurations, I heard some similarities with Medtner's "Campanella", which I consider to be one of his greatest piano pieces. Good job!

    David
     
  9. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    This is up, Mark. And what a neat piece. I really liked this one. Sounds quirky with some jazzy things tossed in. Nice playing, too.

    btw - do you have a date for this? We have the years in which these Skazki were written next to all the other ones on the site. See if you can find it for me, please.
     
  10. Mark

    Mark New Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you David and Monica.

    The date for this piece is 1905, and if you want it also, the dedication is "to my dear parents".
     
  11. schmonz

    schmonz Amitai Schleier Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    As a Medtner fan (warning: understatement), this makes me extremely happy. Terrific playing: well enunciated (which is more significant than usual in this particular piece), clearly conceived, and very musical. Somewhere past your hands, though -- piano? microphone? recording device? compression? -- the quality of the music you're making is being incompletely reproduced here, which is sad. Any ideas where the problem could be?

    I have an armchair theory about Medtner's Op. 8. To my ear, all of his works up through Op. 7 sound like he was still sussing out a few details of his unmistakable style -- they sound like him and nobody else, but not yet quite completely him. And so the Op. 8 pairing, each of which starts with the same six chords before unfolding entirely differently, comes across as what seems likely to have been a self-aware statement by the composer. The second of the two, again to my ear, is Medtner's first piece to precisely satisfy the criterion of Rachmaninov's observation that "Only Medtner has, from the beginning, published works that it would be hard for him to equal in later life." If I didn't know it was Op. 8, it'd be easy to guess a much later number. By comparison, the first of the pair sounds deliberately simpler and less compositionally ambitious. So my theory is that as of Op. 8 Medtner had not only reached the height of his powers and the crystallization of his style, but also that he was fully aware of having done so, and chose to illustrate "before" and "after" by deploying the same thematic material twice to dramatically different effect. When I hear Op. 8 #2, I hear him proudly declaiming "...and this is what the rest of my music is going to sound like." Which it does.

    Many thanks for this recording. Naturally I'm very much looking forward to hearing more. :)
     
  12. felipesarro

    felipesarro New Member

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    well...
    I have to disagree with Rachmaninov. besides Medtner, I see that Brahms also published works of the highest quality since the beginning. The second movement of his Sonata Op. 5 is no better than his late Intermezzo Op. 118 no. 2. :D

    maybe Rachmaninov was talking only about his contemporaries.
     

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