Geoffrey Tozer: Medtner Piano Concerto 3 'Ballade', Neeme Jarvi

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Nikolai Medtner - Piano Concerto No. 3 "Ballade" (1940)

Geoffrey Tozer (1954–2009), Australian classic...
Geoffrey Tozer (1954–2009), Australian classical pianist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Performed by Geoffrey Tozer.
Conducted by Neeme Jarvi with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

I. Con moto largamente - 00:00
II. Interludium: Allegro, molto sostenuto, misterioso - 15:50
III. Finale: Allegro molto-Svegliando, eroico - 17:33

Although Russian commentators maintain that Medtner was inspired to write his Third Piano Concerto by news of the German invasion of Russia in 1941, and Medtner in a letter revealed his painful, anguished nostalgia for old Russia, a sentiment that certainly found its way into the concerto, the work appears to me to be autobiographical: a gentle, stoical, dignified artist summing up his life.

Medtner explained that the work was inspired by a poem of Lermontov's concerning a creature swimming in the depths of the River of Life, progressing towards heavenly understanding. The long opening theme for the solo piano first came to him at the age of eighteen. From it the concerto flows onwards like a river,
changing tempo imperceptibly until it settles into a
English: russian composer Nikolai Metner Русск...
English: russian composer Nikolai Metner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 grave, lilting dance (Allegretto con moto).

The 'Interludium' recalls the summons to battle in Strauss's Ein Heldenleben, tumbling headlong into the Finale (Allegro molto, eroico), in the middle of which is the tranquil, glowing heart of the concerto (Andante con moto). When the eroico material resumes it has lost its fury, and as in Grieg's Piano Concerto the Andante con moto crowns the work.

It is significant that Medtner's Opus 1 was a setting of Lermontov's The Angel, in which a man yearns all his life to hear an echo of the heavenly song sung by the angel who bore him to earth. The Andante, of this, Medtner's last major work, is surely that song.