Recital to highlight neglected Russian composer Medtner

Russian composer Nicolai Medtner (1880-1951) was a formidable musician, a piano professor at the Moscow Conservatoire who, after the Revolution of 1917, fled to Berlin, Paris and finally London.

Yet unlike his friend and fellow exile Rachmaninoff, Medtner never found a popular audience in the West. His work remains little-known, despite its high craftsmanship and expressive beauty.

Hugh MacDonald
Hugh MacDonald

At 3 p.m. April 3 in the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, pianist and longtime Medtner champion Hugh Macdonald, the Avis H. Blewett Professor of Music in Arts & Sciences, will present a rare recital of Medtner’s music. The program will include solo piano works as well as songs based on texts by Goethe; works for violin and piano; and works for cello and piano.

Joining Macdonald will be pianist Seth Carlin, professor of music, and cellist Elizabeth Macdonald, director of strings.

Also performing will be Lenora-Marya Anop, assistant professor of violin at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; and mezzo soprano Carrie Stevens, assistant professor of voice at James Madison University.

“This recital has been planned to present a perspective of Medtner’s art in different genres,” said Macdonald, who will serve as accompanist throughout the program.

Works will include Sonata No. 1 in B Minor for Violin, with Anop; two sets of selected songs, sung by Stevens; and Nocturne, Op. 16, No. 3 and Danza, Op. 43, No. 2, with Elizabeth Macdonald.

In addition, Carlin will perform two solo pieces Medtner wrote under the title Skazki (usually translated as “tales,” though most carry no literary allusion): The Tale in D Minor, Op. 34 No. 4 and The Tale in B Flat Minor, Op. 20, No. 1. The latter, composed in 1909, is one of Medtner’s best-known pieces, unusually close to the style of Rachmaninoff, who played it in 1918-19 during his first U.S. tour.

The recital is free and open to the public. For more information, call 863-6621.