Nikolay Medtner's works for violin and piano represent a very special cross-section of his repertoire not only because of the infrequency with which he composed for instruments other than the solo piano, but because this combination of instruments allowed Medtner a unique ability to write long, almost song-like melodies for a sustaining instrument like the violin. Medtner was brought up and educated in Russia, and although his compositions frequently hint at the Russian folk idiom, his works, including the ones heard on this album, are much more squarely rooted in the German Romantic tradition. The aptly named Canzonas with Dances, Op. 43, brilliantly demonstrate his ability to write elegant, flowing melodies. These short miniatures are joined by the First and Second violin sonatas, the latter of which is a mammoth work clocking in at more than 40 minutes. Violinist Laurence Kayaleh and pianist Paul Stewart unite again to provide listeners with a technically superior and musically gratifying performance of these often neglected works. The balance between the two instruments is superb and gives the sense of a true dialogue rather than simply a piano accompanying a violin. Kayaleh's sound is warm and even across the range of her instrument and her ability to spin legato melodies greatly enhances Medtner's compositions.
Medtner: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2; 2 Canzonas with Dances Review
by Mike D. Brownell