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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A name to watch, 2 Nov. 2009
This review is from: Sudbin Plays Rachmaninov and Medtner (Concertos By Rachmaninov/ Medtner) (Audio CD)
Yevgeny Sudbin continues his homage to Medtner with the second piano concerto, following his excellent recording of Medtner's first with Tchaikovsky's. This time the coupling is Rachmaninov's fourth piano concerto, but in the original 1926 version rather than the better-known 1941 revision. This original version, according to Sudbin's informative notes, runs to 1016 bars as opposed to the revision's 902.
Whereas I felt that in the earlier recording that Medner's first concerto paled somewhat in comparison with the far more familiar Tchaikovsky, in this disc the contrast is not as striking. Those not aquainted with Medtner's style may like to know that it is romantic and tuneful, (indeed, not too dissimilar to Rachmaninov). Both these concertos were composed around 1926 (again Sudbin's cover notes), and both composers eschewed the emergent modernism. No lover of the Russian romantic style could fail to enjoy Medtner.
The Rachmaninov original edition intrigues me - just as I am settling into a familiar theme, my ear is caught by a new accompaniment, and then is swept into a passage that I have not previously heard. This version is significantly different from the one that I am familiar with, and I can certainly see Sudbin's reason for using it. It strikes me as a more obvious development forwards from the previous concertos than the revised edition.
The North Carolina Symphony displays the smooth, civilised sound produced by many American orchestras, and under Grant Llewellyn provides an excellent accompaniment.
Yevgeny Sudbin must be counted near the apex of young Russian virtuosi, indeed having a career that lovers of piano music should follow with interest. His previous recordings for BIS have been acclaimed, and there is the promise of more to come including the complete Beethoven concertos. Soon, please. Here his flawless technique and innate Russianness (despite apparently residing in the UK since 1997) complement these works perfectly.
BIS's 5.0 surround SACD recording does full justice to the music. It needs a little more volume than some, to take account of the realistic dynamic range. Orchestra and piano are placed in a believable acoustic, well balanced, and the result is a very natural sound, from the smooth effortless treble down to the bass drum.
There was no need for an encore, the two concertos adding up to nearly 70 minutes, but Sudbin nevertheless obliges with his transcription of Rachmaninov's song, 'Floods of Spring'. The result is a 3-and-a-half minute display of virtuosity which might have been renamed 'Floods of Notes'. It reminds me of some of the Études-tableaux, with hair-raising double octaves near the end that nearly had me in floods of tears due to jealousy. Nice one, Yevgeny.
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Location: Penarth, Vale of Glam Wales

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