Three Night Songs for Violin & Piano, Op.16
Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951 was born in Moscow and studied piano with his mother before entering the Moscow Conservatory, having studied with Sergei Taneyev among others. A first rate pianist, he nonetheless, at the urging of Taneyev, gave up the career as a performer and turned to composition. Medtner stayed in Russia after the Revolution until 1924 at which point he embarked on a concert tour of North America under the aegis of his friend Rachmaninov. He eventually settled in London where devoted his time to composing and teaching.
Medtner wrote in what might be called a late Romantic and post romantic style. Unlike Rachmaninov, he did not try to write exclusively Russian-sounding music but sought to write in a supra national or international style as had Taneyev and Tchaikovsky. But like them, his music does have its moments where it is very Russian.
The inspiration for Medtner’s Three Night Songs (or Nocturnes as they have become known in English—–though this is an inaccurate translation of the German word Nachtgesang) was a poem by Goethe by the same name. They were composed in 1907. Each varies in mood, but all keep to a dream like quality about which Goethe wrote in his poem.