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Tchaikovsky, Medtner: Piano Concertos / Sudbin, Neschling, Săo Paulo State SO

Release Date: 03/27/2007 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1588   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Ilyich TchaikovskyNikolai Medtner
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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SuperAudio CD:  $19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

Tchaikovsky renewed in this dream concerto debut disc

Yevgeny Sudbin’s performance here fairly explodes with imagination, feeling and desire. Here, one feels, is a pianist hungry to test himself intellectually and emotionally as well as technically. For a performer who reputedly gets very nervous, there is nothing tentative about his commanding style. Yet there is nothing overly monumental about it either. His Tchaikovsky is on a human scale, almost a search for something – understanding perhaps. Sudbin is on a journey, to a marvellous career as
Read more much as anything else, and it is clear that his listeners are along for the ride. The Medtner is of course the rarity on this release. It is also a cruelly difficult piece to play. Sudbin rises to its demands with aplomb and it is entirely to his credit that one is never made ostentatiously aware of just how fiendish it is. There was apparently some creative tension between him and Neschling during the sessions. Nevertheless, they can both be proud of the results.

-- Gramophone [5/2007]

To describe 26-year-old Yevgeny Sudbin as music’s brightest young star pianist is in a sense to do him a disservice. For he is above all an artist, and here in his eagerly awaited concerto debut on disc he gives us a Tchaikovsky First of spine-tingling brilliance, poetry and vivacity. This is never the Tchaikovsky you have always known, but an arrestingly novel rethink with the concentration on mercurial changes of mood and direction. Here, amazingly, is one of the most familiar of all concertos rekindled in all its first glory, brimming over with zest and shorn of all the clichés that have adhered to it over the years.

In the first movement Sudbin’s octaves ring out at 10'18" like a giant carillon, while the Andantino’s central prestissimo becomes in such extraordinary hands a true firefly scherzo. Not even Cherkassky at his finest possesed a more elfin sense of difference or caprice. And to think that all this and more is accomplished without the lift, or hindrance, of a major competition success.

Medtner’s massive First Concerto, too, could hardly be played with a more burning clarity and committment. Once wittily if misleadingly described as “a declaration of love in the language of the First Empire”, Medtner’s music remains formidably inaccessible, despite displaying the outward trappings of Romantic rhetoric. Yet Sudbin clearly believes in every note and his playing evinces, as on live occasions, a rare sense of affection. Such poetry is confirmed in his encore, his own transcription of Medtner’s Liebliches Kind! from his Op 6 songs. It only remains to add that BIS’s balance and sound are of demonstration quality and that the São Paulo SO under John Neschling sound as if influenced by neighbouring Rio’s carnival spirit, so infectiously do they respond to their radiant soloist.

-- Bryce Morrison, Gramophone [5/2007]

You know you've got a winner on your hands when a performance of a piece you know by heart and already own in dozens of recordings makes you sit up and listen to it with fresh ears. That's exactly what happened at the opening of this Tchaikovsky First Concerto. Yevgeny Sudbin attacks those pounding "Liberace" chords with virtuoso relish--and thanks to a little arpeggio action in the right hand at the top of each sequence, with a glint of humor as well. This devil-may-care opening turns out to be a bit deceptive, though, for what characterizes the remainder of the performance is Sudbin's willingness to engage the orchestra in a real dialog. Mind you, nothing is precious or mannered: he simply knows where his part fits into the overall texture, and in places such as the second subject of the first movement and the entire Andante, he lets his colleagues in the wind and string sections have their say and reacts accordingly.

The result, while never short-changing the virtuoso elements (particularly in the finale), has a give-and-take that few other versions match. There are a couple of brief spots in the first movement where the tension does drop a bit as Sudbin lapses into dreamy reverie, but otherwise this is as persuasive a performance of this warhorse as any on disc. The orchestra and conductor have just as much to offer as the soloist, being totally at one with the interpretive concept and wholly characterful in their collective response. I would have loved to have heard this live.

The Medtner First Concerto, a 34-minute single-movement post-Romantic effusion that no one seems to like very much, also receives an enormously powerful and convincing performance. Sudbin must be almost unique in the arts world in that his liner-note writing is every bit as good as his piano playing, which is saying a lot. He makes a strong case for the work and guides the listener through its twists and turns with clarity and enthusiasm. Yet despite his professions of love for the piece, the sincerity of which I do not question, it says something that he has to spend three times the space talking about it than he does the Tchaikovsky. In short, it requires a measure of special pleasing. And yet it really shouldn't. Yes, it may sound in places like Rachmaninov without the tunes, but there's nothing radical or off-putting about Medtner's style.

Perhaps he stresses form over immediacy of emotional expression, and the bottom line is that it's not easy to grasp a single-movement form lasting longer than half an hour on casual acquaintance. But if you make the effort, you will discover an impressively grand, turbulent work that progresses from tragedy to defiant triumph. It's a connoisseur's piece, for sure, and for that reason it won't necessarily appeal to the same audience as the Tchaikovsky (hence the single note of caution in the overall rating for artistic quality). Nevertheless Sudbin deserves a ton of credit for giving the piece an outing and investing it with every ounce of the passion that it deserves. As he himself notes, it is music that grows on you given sufficient time, and you will know right away if you feel like making the investment. Sudbin's own transcription of one of Medtner's songs makes a perfect encore, and the sonics in all formats are, typically for this label, state-of-the-art. In sum, a disc to live with.

--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23 by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano)
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Length: 33 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Notes: Composition written: Russia (1874 - 1875). 
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 33 by Nikolai Medtner
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano)
Conductor:  John Neschling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1918; Russia 
Length: 34 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Goethe-Lieder (9), Op. 6: no 5, Aus "Claudine von Villa-Bella" by Nikolai Medtner
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1905; Russia 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Arranged for piano by Yevgeny Sudbin 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Artist As Leader March 29, 2014 By bess holloway (Boulder, CO) See All My Reviews "If you came for the Tchaikovsky, you should stay for the Medtner. Apparently that is the intent of pianist Yevgeny Sudbin on this recording. He is right. That has been my experience in listening to the second work. Yes, it took several tries, but on the third everything came together, and now I adore this challenging score by Medtner!" Report Abuse
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