BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58; Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 – Yevgeny Sudbin, piano/ Minnesota Orch. /Osmo Vänskä – BIS multichannel SACD 1758, 70:37 [Distr. by Qualiton] *****:
These enormously imaginative, hugely entertaining performances score on so many levels, including the purely orchestral, that there will be many music lovers wishing they could take up residence in the Twin Cities just in order to hear Vanska and the Minnesota as often as possible.
These are very much collaborative performances, with everything between the musicians and the soloist in sync, and the narrative sense and flow very much in the manner of dialogue, particularly in the Fourth Concerto whose nearly apocalyptic slow movement is in fact a dialogue. The orchestra contributes not only in its bold intonation, sleek phrasing and timbre, but in the smallest details, the way the woodwinds not only play with rare delicacy but also impart color to the orchestral sound as a whole.
At 32, the young Russian Yevgeny Sudbin has recorded Scarlatti, Tchaikovsky, Medtner, Rachmaninoff and Haydn, and his Beethoven can stand proudly with the others. Sudbin’s approach benefits tremendously from Vanska’s sympathetic, laid-back layout so that he obviously feels free to phrase with a plasticity and move with a thrilling feline energy. His touch is soft, gently-cushioned, but also able to move quickly.He playing of Beethoven’s longer cadenza in the first movement Fourth is not just exquisite, it constitutes a unique landscape that escapes momentarily from the orbit of the tutti before re-merging magically with the orchestra.
Recorded in Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, the stereo sound is beautifully spread, with great depth and warmth; SACD increases the “sumptuous” factor and makes colors jump out a bit more. Throughout, the texture of the strings, the timbres of the winds and the cumulative impact of the full orchestral sound confirm BIS’s audiophile reputation. [In spite of their low sampling rate used on the original recordings…Ed.] In both, Sudbin’s Steinway D has a pearlescent and lyrical shine that makes it a delight to hear.
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