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Topic: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty  (Read 1371 times)

Online swilliams002

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Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
on: August 20, 2022, 09:39:43 PM
I have recently listened to all of Nikolai Medtner's piano sonatas, and I'm wondering if anyone who is more familiar with them can give me an approximate "difficulty ranking" of them, from easiest to hardest. Just from listening to them and watching the scrolling scores on YouTube, it seems to me that the Night Wind and Minacciosa sonatas are the most difficult, but I haven't learned any of them, so I'm interest in a more informed perspective. Thanks!
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Offline ahinton

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #1 on: August 21, 2022, 10:17:46 AM
I have recently listened to all of Nikolai Medtner's piano sonatas, and I'm wondering if anyone who is more familiar with them can give me an approximate "difficulty ranking" of them, from easiest to hardest. Just from listening to them and watching the scrolling scores on YouTube, it seems to me that the Night Wind and Minacciosa sonatas are the most difficult, but I haven't learned any of them, so I'm interest in a more informed perspective. Thanks!
Difficulty questions are alwasy - er - difficult to answer because what's difficult to one pianist won't be quite the same for others but, that aside, I think you're pretty close here with Night Wind and Minacciosa although I would add Romantica to that shortlist. Night Wind has something of a stamina issue, mental as well as physical, as part of its challenges All that said, however, Medtner's writing for his instrument is so expertly done that this alone helps a little!
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Online swilliams002

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #2 on: August 21, 2022, 02:17:47 PM
Difficulty questions are alwasy - er - difficult to answer because what's difficult to one pianist won't be quite the same for others but, that aside, I think you're pretty close here with Night Wind and Minacciosa although I would add Romantica to that shortlist. Night Wind has something of a stamina issue, mental as well as physical, as part of its challenges All that said, however, Medtner's writing for his instrument is so expertly done that this alone helps a little!

Yes, I think ranking Medtner's sonatas by difficulty is tricky, not just because of differences in each pianist's technique, but also I think most of them are relatively close in difficulty. Of course, some are clearly easier than others (e.g. - Idylle is easier than Ballade). But from what I've seen/heard - they seem to have an unusually broad range of technical difficulties, such that the "most difficult" would vary greatly between performers.
The reason I wanted a difficulty ranking was to have an idea of where I should start in learning them. I'll probably learn the last one (Idylle) first, then probably the Sonaten-Triade, which is possibly my favorite group of sonatas ever.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline ahinton

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #3 on: August 21, 2022, 04:54:13 PM
Yes, I think ranking Medtner's sonatas by difficulty is tricky, not just because of differences in each pianist's technique, but also I think most of them are relatively close in difficulty. Of course, some are clearly easier than others (e.g. - Idylle is easier than Ballade). But from what I've seen/heard - they seem to have an unusually broad range of technical difficulties, such that the "most difficult" would vary greatly between performers.
The reason I wanted a difficulty ranking was to have an idea of where I should start in learning them. I'll probably learn the last one (Idylle) first, then probably the Sonaten-Triade, which is possibly my favorite group of sonatas ever.
That sounds like a very good plan! Good luck with this; the Medtner sonatas are a treasure trove of great piano writing - and if ever you get a chance to get together with a gifted violinist, do try his three sonatas for violin and piano as well!
Alistair Hinton
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Online swilliams002

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #4 on: August 21, 2022, 05:55:48 PM
That sounds like a very good plan! Good luck with this; the Medtner sonatas are a treasure trove of great piano writing - and if ever you get a chance to get together with a gifted violinist, do try his three sonatas for violin and piano as well!

His Violin Sonata no. 3 is truly amazing. I would love for the opportunity to play it with a violinist someday. I have yet to listen to his violin sonatas 1-2 yet, but I will very soon. So much great music to listen to and learn!
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline ahinton

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #5 on: August 21, 2022, 05:57:06 PM
His Violin Sonata no. 3 is truly amazing. I would love for the opportunity to play it with a violinist someday. I have yet to listen to his violin sonatas 1-2 yet, but I will very soon. So much great music to listen to and learn!
Yes - and no. 2 is also one of the finest ever written!
Alistair Hinton
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The Sorabji Archive

Online swilliams002

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #6 on: August 22, 2022, 01:43:36 AM
Yes - and no. 2 is also one of the finest ever written!
I just listened to no. 2 - sublime! I especially love the second movement, with its theme and variations.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline krncandi

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #7 on: September 19, 2022, 10:11:43 PM
Hands down it's his Night Wind, Minacciosa and Romantica. All exhaustingly difficult to interpret and to endure technique wise

Online swilliams002

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #8 on: May 09, 2023, 03:57:35 PM
Update nine months later - I actually started with the Sonata-Elegy, Op. 11, no. 2 first. Currently learning Op. 11, no. 1 in A-flat (the piece that made me fall in love with Medtner's music) while polishing the Sonata-Elegy.

Here is a recent performance of it that I did at a small venue. It's still rough, but I'm confident I can sort through the difficulties of the coda with some more practice.



My new plan is to learn the Sonata-Triad, then Op. 5. I know, Op. 5 is crazy difficult, but I'm in no rush.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13

Offline popicona

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #9 on: May 15, 2023, 10:09:26 AM
Quote
Update nine months later - I actually started with the Sonata-Elegy, Op. 11, no. 2 first. Currently learning Op. 11, no. 1 in A-flat (the piece that made me fall in love with Medtner's music) while polishing the Sonata-Elegy.

Here is a recent performance of it that I did at a small venue. It's still rough, but I'm confident I can sort through the difficulties of the coda with some more practice.



My new plan is to learn the Sonata-Triad, then Op. 5. I know, Op. 5 is crazy difficult, but I'm in no rush.

Great video to me. Thanks

Online swilliams002

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Re: Medtner's Piano Sonatas Ranked by Difficulty
Reply #10 on: May 16, 2023, 12:39:27 AM
Great video to me. Thanks

Thank you! I plan to post my first performances of each sonata here as I learn and perform them.
"You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart." - Jeremias 29, 13
 

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