The Australian pianist discusses his new Medtner and Rachmaninov disc, Limelight’s Recording of the Month for September.
Medtner’s First Piano Concerto isn’t played or recorded all that often – what drew you to this music?
I was asked to be involved in a documentary about the Australian pianist Geoffrey Tozer, who, as well as being one of the greatest pianists Australia has ever produced, was a great lover and advocate of Medtner’s music. The piece I would learn during the process of the documentary was the Medtner First Piano Concerto – and this is how I became exposed to this music. I was immediately gripped by the startling opening of this work, and captivated by the uniqueness of the harmonic and rhythmic complexity.
Of the few recordings that are out there, are there any versions you particularly admire? Why?
My introduction to the piece was of course Geoffrey’s landmark recording with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Neeme Järvi, full of rhythmic drive and energy. Later I found a perhaps more romantic approach in Yevgeny Sudbin’s recording, and after contacting Sudbin he suggested I also have a listen to Igor Zhukov’s recording, which in the end I found the most compelling of those available.