Piano Concerto No. 2 in C min

Nikolai Medtner

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C min

Op. 50

About this work

Written while the composer was in Paris, Medtner's Second Concerto is considered an ambitious work for a man whose corpus of works are for the solo piano. The concerto's three movements are at once ingenious and subtle in nature, with some of the most imaginative work found in the piano part. The first movement is billed as a Toccata: Allegro risoluto, and the extensive solo sections indeed boast the dramatic showmanship of a toccata. The piano and orchestra emphatically declare the first theme, which is more percussive than lyrical and leaves much room for later development. The cantabile second theme is later introduced by the piano and violins, and a rhythmic element much like a hunting call appears as a third theme. In the development, the piano and orchestra explore the three themes equally. The concluding section is a lengthy and elaborate cadenza for the piano; after a coda that sums up the movement as a whole, the pianist indulges in one last trill and scale run for a dramatic finish. The second movement (Romanza: Andante con moto) is in A flat and in 3/4 time; it is based almost entirely on the piano's opening theme, a brief, lyrical melody in parallel thirds. The theme is passed on to the violins, then the cellos and violas, with ever increasing emphasis. As the subject (particularly the first phrase) is developed, the drama and emotion build to a final restatement of the theme, divided between the piano and orchestra. Medtner calls his final movement a Divertimento: Allegro risoluto e molto vivace, and the piano's playfully leaping opening theme reflects the title. A second theme, more reserved and lyrical, is introduced later by the strings. At times the two themes are played simultaneously, and the movement is marked by a number of thematic quotes from both the toccata and the romanza. The concluding coda is preceded by a cadenza based on the movement's first theme.