Severin von Eckardstein

Nikolaj Metner: Piano Works

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The constant movement and passionate stream-of-consciousness of Nikolay Medtner's music suits Severin von Eckardstein wonderfully, and he it. The difference between his performance of these character pieces/tone poems for piano and that of other pianists is his touch. He is light and graceful enough that feverishly ardent passages do not burrow deeply into a good, indulgent brood and drag the listener along for the ride. Instead, he propels himself through the moodiness, but still fully acknowledges the feelings within the music. There is plenty of drama, but no stridency. His fingers seem to fly over notes without missing any, giving a feathery nature to spots such as the very end of the "Night Wind" Sonata, Op. 25/2, and the Stimmungsbild, Op. 1/5. While it's hard to think of Medtner's piano music as being widely varied, Eckardstein does put together a more varied program of it than is found on most recordings, where programs are usually built around one form of Medtner's writing (e.g. the Fairy Tales or sonatas). He mixes character pieces from several different sets of morceaux and Fairy Tales, finding as much of an assortment of moods as is possible, given Medtner's tendency toward gloomy nostalgia. There is some joy in the Hymne vor der Arbeit and contentment in Leichtes Klavierstück No. 1 that spread sunshine through the clouds. It all makes for a good introduction to Medtner's work, and the fact that Eckardstein does so well with it is icing on the cake.

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