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Beethoven: Piano Concertos 4 & 5 / Sudbin, Vanska, Minnesota Orchestra

Release Date: 01/25/2011 
Label:  Bis   Catalog #: 1758  
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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

Expectations ran high in anticipation of this release, and they have not been disappointed. BIS just completed a partially successful Beethoven piano concerto series in which an often inspired Ronald Brautigam was shackled to an expressively challenged and period-pedantic Andrew Parrott. Here, both conductor and soloist are consistently operating on the same exciting wavelength. Osmo Vänskä's credentials as a Beethoven conductor remain impressive. He understands the importance of accents, of sforzandos that enliven but don't disrupt the melodic line. He never fails to balance Beethoven's
Read more all-important bass lines clearly (opening tutti of the Fourth concerto), or to give sufficient prominence to those rapid accompaniments in repeated notes that energize the music's texture (first movement of the "Emperor"). The orchestra plays with real intensity as well as expressiveness, offering the perfect collaboration for Yevgeny Sudbin's contributions.

These are no less memorable. It's sometimes said that you can tell how well the Fourth concerto will go from the pianist's handling of the opening phrase, and there's some truth to this observation. Sudbin plays it with simple dignity, refuses to make a big ritard at the end, and strictly observes Beethoven's eighth-note value on the last note. The result is that the phrase sounds incomplete (as it should), arousing expectation and carrying the music through the pause to the hesitant entry of the violins in a different key. He understands that some of Beethoven's biggest surprises arrive softly. In short, there is a true give-and-take between soloist and orchestra throughout these performances that makes them especially engaging.

The slow movement is wonderful: Vänskä finds a tempo--a touch slower than usual--that allows him to observe the "sempre staccato" indication and provide the necessary rhetorical weight to the strings' emphatic proclamations, while Sudbin's answers represent the soul of inward poetry. The finale, by contrast, is dazzling and uninhibited, with trumpets and drums cutting through the texture, and Sudbin's fast passage-work is joyous but never tonally forced or hard.

Indeed, it may sound odd to say so, but one of the joys of Sudbin's playing is his handling of simple scales and runs. Mozart once remarked how he delighted in making them "go like oil", with perfect smoothness, and that's just how Sudbin handles them. There are a lot of scales in these pieces, in the "Emperor" particularly. In its first movement, each major entrance (and exit) of the piano features a simple scale, and anyone who can make these as memorable and beautiful as Sudbin does is a major talent indeed. He has a particular way, in the Adagio for example, of rendering the melodic line expressive through control of touch and dynamics without distorting the rhythm, and this makes the music touching without excess sentimentality. It all seems very much in the spirit of Beethoven, as is the robust and perfectly-timed manner in which he and Vänskä launch the finale--grand in all of the right ways. The coda's huge, amazingly well-judged diminuendo and ritard only confirm the generally masterful impression. Gorgeous SACD sonics make this release a Beethoven experience you will not want to miss.

– David Hurwitz,
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano)
Conductor:  Osmo Vänskä
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Minnesota Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 

Featured Sound Samples

Piano Concerto no 4: I. Allegro moderato
Piano Concerto no 4: III. Rondo. Vivace

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 A Great American Orchestra February 15, 2015 By bess holloway (Boulder, CO) See All My Reviews "I'm becoming more and more aware of our best American orchestras. The Minnesota is a national treasure in my view. Pianist Sudbin most certainly knows this, and the performance by both is the proof here. It's a truly great recording." Report Abuse
 Nuanced performance, splendid sonics December 3, 2014 By Jeffrey W. (ALLENDALE, NJ) See All My Reviews "The two final Beethoven piano concertos are among my favorite works. Until now, my favorite versions were played by Claudio Arrau with Colin Davis/Dresden. Sudbin, Vanska and the Minnesotans provide us with a gift almost beyond measure. Controlled but nuanced, almost liquid piano playing by Sudbin is nestled in the capable and sensitive hands of Vanska and his crew. This is an amazing musical experience that is pretty much flawless, Add to this the detailed clarity of the BIS recording and you have a supremely satisfying musical experience. I recommend this disk highly." Report Abuse
 Highly Charged Performance April 7, 2012 By Richard H. (Glendale, AZ) See All My Reviews "Vanska and Sudbin really cook on these two concertos. The SACD's full range recording is great. The Minnesota Orchestra has really gained respect over the last few years with many great releases to their credit. This is amoung them." Report Abuse
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