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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, July 2013

This is pianism at its pinnacle. Stewart’s dynamic range is amazing, as he teases from his instrument the most delicately whispered pianissimos one moment and achieves the most thunderous fortissimos the next. But through all the virtuosic wizardry that leaves one agape, there emerges an artist of poetic sensitivity who makes every measure of Medtner’s music sing.

This is not just enthusiastically recommended, but with great urgency. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Bryce Morrison
Gramophone, March 2013

The first of a projected four-disc set of Medtner’s piano sonatas performed by the Canadian pianist Paul Stewart launches a deeply personal and complex project with unfailing mastery and acute stylistic awareness.

…Paul Stewart adds a voice of exceptional distinction, finely presented and recorded. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

MusicWeb International, January 2013

Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata-Reminiscenza is one of eight substantial pieces published as his opp.38, 39 and 40, with the overall title of Forgotten Melodies. That would almost make a pithy hic jacet for a composer whose deeply imaginative, poignantly beautiful piano works make his historical neglect as bizarre as it is scandalous.

Canadian pianist Paul Stewart sets out to right some wrongs with this first of four volumes on Grand Piano dedicated to Medtner’s fourteen Piano Sonatas. In his informative, well researched notes he points up both the diminutive nature of the Medtner discography and the fact that some recordings “are based on editions that contain misprints and other errors”.

For his recital Stewart, a long-time champion of Medtner’s music, plays a restored period Steinway actually performed on by the composer himself in 1929 in Montreal. Its tone is well worth hearing, especially in the fine audio on offer here, and Stewart’s even more so: he gives an authoritative, expressive and thoroughly listener-friendly reading of Medtner’s works, leaving a strong sense of anticipation for the remaining volumes.

Though an early work, the First Piano Sonata in F minor is a glorious, passionate work of writhing melodies and wistful harmony, quite possibly an ode to his brother’s, and his own future, wife. The Sonata-Reminiscenza in A minor is Medtner’s Tenth Sonata, and his most performed. Rightly so too: like much of Medtner’s piano music, it calls to mind a less sombre, more emotionally ‘stable’ Rachmaninov—who referred to him, incidentally, as “the greatest composer of our time”. Flowingly imaginative, the nostalgia of the title morphs into haunting melancholy—no coincidence that Medtner was about to leave his native Russia for good. The brief Sonatina is a bagatelle by comparison, but very agreeable in a similar kind of way. It was not published until 1981, and its two-movement structure suggests that Medtner had not quite finished with it. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

James Harrington
American Record Guide, January 2013

I was already quite pleased with these performances when I read the detailed booklet notes by Stewart, which are outstanding. When a pianist has Stewart’s analytical mind, it can get the performance bogged down in details, but not here. It is all fresh and wonderfully alive. Stewart clearly lacks none of the requisite technical skills to bring this music off.

The results are superb…This disc is a grand beginning to a cycle and I eagerly await the next installment. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Steve Holtje
Culture Catch, November 2012

…Stewart delivers a broader reading of the already monumental Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 5…Nor does he come up shy in either technique or sound (in both senses: his own beautifully rounded tone, and recording quality). The other work here is the shorter and tenderer Sonata-Reminiscenza in A minor, Op. 38 No. 1, which Stewart’s lyrical approach is nicely matched with…Medtner…was an underrated master of writing for the piano, and having more views of his music available on record helps make a stronger case for his undeniable worth. I look forward to hearing Stewart’s progress through the cycle; the young pianist has already proven here that he can stand with the best. © 2012 Culture Catch Read complete review, October 2012

The Grand Piano label is making its way through the pianistic output of a variety of composers, and it has struck gold with its decision to release the sonatas of Nicolai Medtner…The early Sonatina in G minor… proves to be melodic, very well structured and assembled at a length (seven-and-a-half minutes) that seems to fit the material perfectly; it is also, especially in its second movement, very Tchaikovskian. The Sonata No. 1 in F minor…is more than four times as long and much more intense, including a sense of spiritual seeking as well as very considerable amounts of drama. It contains reflections of Schumann and Liszt, but also shows clearly that Medtner had already developed his own distinctive style. And the Sonata-Reminiscenza, in A minor and composed from 1919 to 1920, is simply beautiful: poetic, nostalgic and lyrical, filled with melancholy and regret, and featuring much of the originality found in the Skazki. © 2012 Read complete review

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