Yevgeny Sudbin

Yevgeny Sudbin plays Medtner & Rachmaninov

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One of the attractions of the recordings by pianist Yevgeny Sudbin is that he generally writes his own notes, which are literate and imbued with same expressive insight he brings to his playing. Sudbin has championed the music of the semi-obscure Nikolai Medtner, whom Rachmaninov called the greatest composer of his time. Here Sudbin writes that in Medtner's music "complexity (whether rhythmic or polyphonic) is only a tool to bring out highly emotional content." And this needle is the one that Sudbin threads so effectively. Consider (and sample) the curiously titled Sonata-Reminscenza, Op. 38, No. 1 (track 3), which Sudbin contends "might be regarded as Medtner's reflection of the difficult times in Russia: it was composed between 1918 and 1920. The single-movement work is in a clear sonata form, overlaid by virtuoso effects that convey a deeply unsettled quality. In Sudbin's hands all the music has this monumental yet interior quality, in which the pianist seems to commune with the composer as few others have. The six assorted preludes from Rachmaninov's Op. 23 and Op. 32 sets are the ideal complement, equally virtuosic but more straightforwardly poetic. This is a superb recording of Russian music of the early 20th century, one that will find a place in many collections that lack the fascinating figure of Medtner.

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