Notes and Editorial Reviews
With this release Yevgeny Sudbin and Osmo Vänskä complete their survey of Beethoven’s piano concertos, and once again make these ubiquitous scores sound new by taking Beethoven’s markings seriously without checking their inherent musicality, taste, and imagination at the studio door.
The Tapiola Sinfonietta strings use vibrato sparingly, yet avoid the ugly, monotonous sonority typical of too many period ensembles. More importantly, Vänskä pays attention to and understands the expressive importance of the composer’s signature subito dynamics. He vivifies accompanimental passages that often go for nothing, such as the repeated woodwind chords in the B-flat concerto’s first-movement development section.
Some listeners will be annoyed at the overly tapered feminine endings in the ritornellos, a period-performance habit that refuses to die. However, the reduced orchestral forces allow myriad details their rarely heard due in the C major concerto first movement. For example, how often do you hear the horns and winds piggyback atop the piano’s downwardly cascading arpeggios? And rarely have the first-desk oboe solos sounded so colorful and emotionally intense.
Sudbin seems quite inspired by his collaborators, and turns in some of his crispest, most zestful, and contrapuntally astute work in each concerto’s outer movements. Yet the focus and crystalline transparency of his slow movements should not go unnoticed. Here he spins out long lines with a variety of articulations that reflect the breath pauses, accents, and phrase shapes one experiences with great singers. At the same time, the pianist is not afraid to be brutal and combative when needed, as he digs into fortissimo chords with full, cutting abandon.
He also lets loose in the Second concerto’s wonderful first-movement cadenza dating from Beethoven’s late period, with its intimations of the “Hammerklavier” sonata’s treacherous fugue. In the First concerto, Sudbin provides a stylish third-movement cadenza, and a less stylish yet pianistically lavish concoction based on a cadenza by Romantic keyboard icon Ignaz Friedman. Stimulating stuff!
– ClassicsToday (Jed Distler) Read less
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano)
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria
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