Medtner: Fairy Tales (selection)
Op. 20-1, B flat minor
Op. 20-2, B minor
Op. 34-2, E minor
Op. 34-3, A minor (Forest spirit)
Op. 42-1, F minor (Russian Tale)
Op. 26-3, F minor
Op. 42-3, G sharp minor
Op. 35-4, C sharp minor
Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28
Rachmaninov: Piano Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 28
Acclaimed for his highly sensitive touch and technical brilliance, Alexei Volodin is in demand by orchestras at the highest level. Last season saw his debut with St Petersburg Philharmonic and New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in addition to return visits to Canada, China and the UK, where he toured with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Antonio Méndez. In recital, he has appeared at Wigmore Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Barcelona’s Palau de la Músic and the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatoire amongst many other prestigious venues.
Alexei Volodin’s career is truly international and his repertoire diverse, ranging from Beethoven and Brahms through Tchaikovsky and Scriabin to Gershwin. He remains however a native of Russia, born in Leningrad and trained at Moscow Conservatoire, and tonight his programme is an entirely Russian one.
A fairy tale atmosphere pervades as Volodin opens with a selection from Nikolai Medtner’s 38 vivid piano miniatures, including Op.34 no.3 conjuring the not-so-benign wood goblin and Op.35 no.4, which references King Lear’s challenge to the elements. Prokofiev’s single movement 3rd Sonata follows, a short and energetic work that Prokofiev took from sketches dating back to his student years. In the second half and bringing the concert to a dramatic close, Alexei Volodin takes on Rachmaninov’s Piano Sonata no.1. Less well known than the more flamboyant Sonata no.2, this is a colossus of a piece, demanding much of the pianist in terms of both subtlety and skill. Rachmaninov’s initial inspiration was Goethe’s Faust legend and although he abandoned the idea, traces remain in the many voices and powerful mood changes. It will be a rare treat to hear this under-performed work.