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Monday, March 20, 2017

Yevgeny Sudbin plays Scriabin


Composer: Alexander Scriabin
  1. Étude, Op. 8 No. 12
  2. Sonata No. 2 (Sonate-Fantaisie), Op. 19: I. Andante
  3. Sonata No. 2 (Sonate-Fantaisie), Op. 19: II. Presto
  4. Étude from Three Pieces, Op. 2
  5. Ten Mazurkas, Op. 3: No. 3. Allegretto
  6. Ten Mazurkas, Op. 3: No. 6. Scherzando
  7. Ten Mazurkas, Op. 3: No. 1. Tempo giusto
  8. Ten Mazurkas, Op. 3: No. 4. Moderato
  9. Sonata No. 5, Op. 53
  10. Nuances from Four Pieces, Op. 56
  11. Poème from Two Pieces, Op. 59
  12. Sonata No. 9, 'Messe noire', Op. 68
  13. Valse, Op. 38

Yevgeny Sudbin, piano
Date: 2007
Label: BIS



All the agony and the ecstasy from the amazing Yevgeny Sudbin

Writing in prose as delirious as his playing, Yevgeny Sudbin speaks in his accompanying nine-page essay of the incomprehension that greeted Scriabin’s half-crazed genius in both Russia and the West. I should add that America, too, was similarly baffled, reminding us that there are those who think “that the air is filled with green monkeys with crimson eyes and sparkling tails, a kind of ecstasy that is sold in Russia at two roubles a bottle”. This is entirely apt and, laying my cards firmly on the table, I should say that no pianist of any generation has, in my experience, captured Scriabin’s volatility so vividly as Sudbin.

In his choice of sonatas (ranging through Scriabin’s early, middle and late periods), his mix of drama and introspection are positively alchemic and entirely his own. It is as if the music’s very nerve ends are exposed to view and rarely have I heard a pianist prepared to take such risks on record. He takes virtuosity to the very edge at the end of the Fifth Sonata and his daredevil aplomb is at its height in the Ninth, suitably named Black Mass Sonata.

How he varies the colour, light and shade in the early D sharp minor Etude so that its familiar heroic octaves sound newly minted and never merely frenetic! His selection of Mazurkas is given with a breathtaking subtlety, making you long to hear him in Chopin, while his response to Scriabin’s command in the Fifth Sonata, presto tumultuoso esaltato, is like the vortex of a whirlwind.

All these performances are flecked with personal touches and brilliances above and beyond even Scriabin’s wildest demands.Finally, BIS captures Sudbin’s astonishing range of colours and sonorities, ranging from the utmost delicacy to an enraged uproar, in crystalline demonstration sound. This, put suitably euphorically, is a disc in a million.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone

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


Alexander Scriabin (6 January 1872 [O.S. 25 December 1871] – 27 April [O.S. 14 April] 1915) was a Russian composer and pianist. Influenced early in his life by the work of Frédéric Chopin, Scriabin composed works that are characterised by a highly tonal idiom. Later in his career, independently of Arnold Schoenberg, Scriabin developed a substantially atonal and much more dissonant musical system. Scriabin was influenced by synesthesia, and associated colours with the various harmonic tones of his atonal scale.


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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