Sunday, March 19, 2017

Nikolai Medtner; Sergei Rachmaninov - Piano Concertos (Yevgeny Sudbin)


Composer: Nikolai Medtner; Sergei Rachmaninov
  1. Medtner - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 50: I. Toccata. Allegro risoluto
  2. Medtner - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 50: II. Romanza. Andante con moto
  3. Medtner - Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 50: III. Divertissement. Allegro risoluto e molto vivace
  4. Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40: I. Allegro vivace (alla breve)
  5. Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40: II. Largo
  6. Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No. 4 in G minor, Op. 40: III. Allegro vivace
  7. Rachmaninov - Floods of Spring, No. 11 from Twelve Songs, Op. 14 (trans. Yevgeny Sudbin)

Yevgeny Sudbin, piano
North Carolina Symphony Orchestra
Grant Llewellyn, conductor

Date: 2009
Label: BIS

Other recordings of Medtner's 2nd Piano Concerto by Demidenko and Tozer



Rachmaninov’s first thoughts receive passionate advocacy from Sudbin

This richly enterprising programme couples Rachmaninov’s 1926 version of his Fourth Piano Concerto with Medtner’s Second, works which both composers lovingly dedicated to each other. For good measure Sudbin adds his own transcription of Rachmaninov’s Floods of Spring to say nothing of lively accompanying notes that refer to “Music-Neanderthals” who demean both Rachmaninov and Medtner. By 1941 Rachmaninov presented a drastically pruned version of his Fourth Concerto, reducing it by 192 bars, and it is this version, much to Sudbin’s chagrin, that is generally played today. But here he makes a strong case for Rachmaninov’s early length and elaboration both verbally and in playing which captures a special sense of the chill wind that blows across its surface, the fast fading of the emotional warmth of the first three concertos. Here, former sweetness is very much on the turn and there are many moments when this dazzling and unsettling work sounds like a parody of Rachmaninov’s first rhetoric and grandiloquence. Less vital or revelatory than in his recording of Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto, Sudbin’s relatively low-key playing never leaves you in doubt of his musicianship and dexterity. For him both Rachmaninov and Medtner are too serious for overt display so that even when you miss Michelangeli’s legendary frisson and authority (his record is of Rachmaninov’s 1941 revision – EMI, 5/00) or Demidenko’s scarcely less formidable brilliance in Medtner’s Second Concerto (Hyperion, 4/92) you may well warm to a gentler, more accomodating view. Sudbin’s poetic quality shines through every bar of his encore, the elemental force of Earl Wild’s arrangement and recording (Dell’Arte, 11/87) again reduced to more comfortable proportions. BIS’s sound and balance emphasise their pianist’s reserve and occasional self-effacement.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****


Nikolai Medtner (5 January 1880 [O.S. 24 December 1879] – 13 November 1951) was a Russian composer and pianist. A younger contemporary of Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Scriabin, he wrote a substantial number of compositions, all of which include the piano. His works include fourteen piano sonatas, three violin sonatas, three piano concerti, a piano quintet, two works for two pianos, many shorter piano pieces, a few shorter works for violin and piano, and 108 songs including two substantial works for vocalise. Despite his conservative musical tastes, Medtner's compositions and his pianism were highly regarded by his contemporaries.


Sergei Rachmaninov (1 April [O.S. 20 March] 1873 – 28 March 1943) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. He is widely considered as one of the finest pianists of his day and, as a composer, one of the last great representatives of Romanticism in Russian classical music. His style is notable for its song-like melodicism, expressiveness and his use of rich orchestral colors. The piano is featured prominently in Rachmaninoff's compositional output, and through his own skills as a performer he explored the expressive possibilities of the instrument.


Yevgeny Sudbin (born 19 April 1980 in Saint Petersburg, Russia) is a Russian concert pianist. He studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin, the Purcell School and the Royal Academy of Music. Among his teachers are Christopher Elton, Murray Perahia, Leon Fleisher, Stephen Kovacevich, Dmitri Bashkirov, Fou Ts'ong and Stephen Hough. Sudbin's recordings for BIS have met with critical acclaim and are regularly featured as CD of the Month by BBC Music Magazine or Editor’s Choice by Gramophone.


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