Cordial invitation to a noteworthy concert at the Berlin University of the Arts, Joseph Joachim hall, on Saturday, 28 January, 7 pm: We’ll take the term Recital seriously and confront a German Lieder programme with recitations of the corresponding poems. Students from the voice classes of professors Julie Kaufmann and Elisabeth Werres will be performing a colourful variety of songs, including two of my own compositions, while my colleague Alwin Müller-Arnke declaims Goethe, Heine, Rilke, and George, accompanied by some lofty introductions from my lips. Admission is free—do pay us a visit!
There were a number of live and studio recordings, mostly from my school and university years, that used to linger on my hard disks. In addition to my composer profile and that of my choir, I have now launched a separate SoundCloud page dedicated to performances of other people’s piano music. Here you will find some pieces by Bach, Schumann, Franck, Scriabin, and Gershwin. I’d be so delighted if thou wouldst kindly lend me thine ears!
My satirical retrospect on the music year of 2016 has been published at German blog Musik – mit allem und viel scharf. The four episodes deal with aspects of musical performance, composition, and academic life, drawing on a handful of recent Facebook posts—you will probably recognize some of them. Postfactual alert in advance: Please be aware of your sense of absurd irony and subtle mockery being put to the test 😉
The denomination of key signatures of musical works does not always reflect the actual reality. For example, Beethoven‘s Kreutzer Sonata, Op. 47, is referred to as an A major work due to the tonality of the introduction and the finale, whereas the sonata-allegro part of the 1st movement is in A minor. A slightly different case is Schumann‘s String Quartet, Op. 41 No. 1, where the introduction also determines the alleged tonality of A minor, regardless of the fact that the first sonata-allegro is in F major. Even more curious is the key of Schubert‘s Impromptu, Op. 90 No. 4, notated and generally given as A flat major, even if the music clearly begins in A flat minor.
Isn’t it a bit awkward to only look at a piece’s beginning when identifying its overall key? To me it seems reasonable to consider the main section of a movement more relevant than an introduction, as long as the latter only switches between major and minor modes—such as Mendelssohn‘s Rondo capriccioso, Op. 14 (correctly termed an E minor work, even if its introduction is in E major), or Dvořák‘s Eighth Symphony, Op. 88 (a G major work with a 1st-movement introduction in G minor). According to that principle, we should speak of the Kreutzer Sonata as an A minor composition. On the contrary, the abovementioned Schumann remains an A minor work, as indicated by three of its four movements, and despite the 1st movement moving to the submediant. What do you think?
Tonight is my first appearance as a music communicator in Hamburg. Pretty excited to present an introduction to an orchestral concert in the Laeiszhalle, featuring the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and violinist Christian Tetzlaff as a soloist. If you feel in the mood for Mozart, Beethoven, and Schoenberg’s »Transfigured Night«, it’d be just awesome to have your company! Introduction 7 pm at the Recital Hall, concert 8 pm.
Now that the eleventh month has come, here is a suitable background music from my manufacture. Make yourself comfy, brew a cup of tea, and enjoy my piano piece November Lament. May all of you get through this gloomy, cold, and rainy season well!
On Friday, 28 October, Joanna Talarkiewicz, Sojeong Son and Hanna Raniszewska will premiere my composition Tiefes Herz for voice, flute and piano, performed in a public masterclass of my dear colleague Karola Theill along with music by Lachner, Brahms, Saint-Saëns and Vaughan Williams. It’s going to be a delicate pleasure, and I’d be delighted to see you in the audience.
My recent writings on Russian music are now obtainable online. Make sure to read or download the papers soon—once they are printed, the publishers will have me take them down 😉 The Taneyev & Scriabin symphony essay is available in three different languages, while the papers on the Medtner sonatas, Opp. 11, 22, and 27, come in German or English only. My apologies for the language barrier—hope you appreciate my stuff anyway!
The editing of my latest recording is now finished. It features some recent piano compositions, including Children’s Kaleidoscope, a short cycle in four pieces that was written for my daughter Cosima’s 4th birthday. I’d be most delighted if you could spare a couple of minutes to listen to some excerpts, such as this one: »Being First«, a little invention for piano, with its two voices chasing after each other. — Also, the typesetting of my complaisant woodwind quintet named Symphonic Scene is finally completed. The score is available here.
I have started a Medtner newsletter. The idea is to send information and updates on events, publications, recent recordings, and other developments related to Nikolai Medtner—to be issued from time to time, presumably 2–3 numbers per year. Let me know if you want to subscribe. I will also be grateful if you provided me with information to include in the following issues!
The First International Nikolai Karlovich Medtner Competition will be held at the end of November 2016 in St Petersburg, organised by Nota Bene Association. The competition is open for pianists, vocalists and musicological research and review in English or Russian language. Applications are accepted until 15 October. The submission guidelines can be found here; they didn’t announce them in translation for whatever reason, but I was told that contributions in English are welcome.
Update November 2016: The competition’s musicological research and review section was cancelled due to an insufficient number of contributions. This fact was communicated only upon request.
Life is so full of contrasts. Only two days after appearing as a jury member in the OneBeat SampleSlam at Kantine am Berghain, gladly evaluating some amazing productions of electronic music, I was lucky enough to witness another outstanding Medtner experience today. Severin von Eckardstein and Michèle Gurdal were playing his 3rd Piano Concerto at Piano Salon Christophori, leaving me completely stunned. Apart from enjoying one of the very rare occasions to hear this piece performed live, it has been an overwhelming encounter with intelligent, emotional, and simply breathtaking musicianship. Besides, eavesdropping on what people chat after listening to what they consider to be just another late-Romantic virtuoso concerto makes me feel even more grateful to belong to a curious species—a company of some assorted, enlightened, and inaugurated bastards acquainted with Nikolai Karlovich Medtner‘s music. Thank you for an unforgettable evening!
It does not quite fit the current season, but anyway, I’ll be performing the premiere of my piano piece November Lament next Friday, 7:30 pm, in my university‘s recital hall, as part of an amazing concert programmed by our music theory classes. If you can manage a mournful, sombre, and autumnous facial expression, please come around and help me getting into the mood!