ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
Chopin - Yevgeny Sudbin


FREDERIC CHOPIN - Various Piano Works - Yevgeny Sudbin (Piano) - Hybrid SACD - 7318599918389 - Released: October 2011 - BIS SACD1838

Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49
Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No. 1
Nocturne in C minor, Op. 48 No. 1
Mazurka in F minor, Op. 7 No. 3
Mazurka in D major, Op. 33 No. 2
Mazurka in B minor, Op. 33 No. 4
Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47
Mazurka in B flat minor, Op. 24 No. 4
Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 50 No. 3
Nocturne in E flat major, Op. 55 No. 2
Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52

A La Minute (Yevgeny Sudbin)

Yevgeny Sudbin writes: "For the performer, in my experience and in the experience of many of my colleagues, the music's raw, direct appeal to human emotions presents huge dilemmas when it comes to execution, and when searching for answers to certain interpretative problems one will usually end up with more questions. Inevitably it becomes a tough balancing act on a tightrope: on the one side, naïvety and blandness threaten, while, on the other side, a laboured and contrived approach could potentially damage the music even further. It is not easy to articulate these interpretative challenges properly but, simply put, the notes as they stand have such an incredible power of expression that imposing yourself can often diminish the piece's expressive impact. This can make our job (as interpreters) deceptively easy or impossibly difficult."

This new release, the latest in about a dozen fine recordings by this young Russian pianist, not only underscores the fact that he is one of the best from this generation of pianists, but also demonstrates a strong propensity to composition and a natural talent for walking the tightrope. His statement rings true when you consider that many of Frédéric Chopin's main ideas and melodies are rather naïve and can become mundane, or even maudlin, under the wrong hands. But every good pianist knows that there is no need to overdo a Chopin melody, because it's the underlying harmonic subassembly that reveals the hidden beauty of that melody. Chopin clearly understood that when you alter their harmonic support, even repeated notes take on a completely different character. And in the Nocturne in C minor for example, you can tell that Yevgeny Sudbin takes delight in bringing out the rich and colorful harmonic structure of this particular piece. He also finds just the right level of charm and levity within the mazurkas, and the right degree of fire, determination and harmonic freedom that drive the Fantaisie in F minor forward.

The clincher on this CD has to be Sudbin's own composition titled A La Minute, a paraphrase on Chopin's Waltz in D flat major, here given its world première recording. It instantly brings to mind some of Marc-André Hamelin's own efforts in this style, wherein Sudbin manages to flawlessly blend and combine Chopin's original with clever harmonic twists and jazzy syncopations. The magic touch is when he adds a whiff of Ravel's La Valse to the mix without anything sounding fabricated or out of place. May I suggest that Mr. Sudbin pursue writing as an offshoot to his pianistic career.

This BIS Hybrid SACD recording once again captures the piano's sound with the right balance of dynamics and warmth, distance and presence, to create a natural perspective and tangible sound that makes the loudspeakers vanish.

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2011