Yevgeny Sudbin / Andrew Litton

Medtner: Piano Concerto No. 3; Scriabin: Piano Concerto

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The pairing of conservative, Western-oriented Nikolay Medtner and Russian mystic Alexander Scriabin might seem odd, but the Scriabin Piano Concerto in F sharp minor, Op. 20, composed in 1897, is rooted in the style of Rachmaninov, as is the Medtner Piano Concerto No. 3 in E minor, Op. 60 ("Ballade"), written almost 50 years later. But the two works sound neither like each other nor like any of the concertos of Rachmaninov, and they work well together. The Scriabin contains plenty of hints as to what was about to happen. Where Rachmaninov would build to a large climax, Scriabin skitters away from it, a tendency that Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra under Andrew Litton, captures very well. The Medtner Third Concerto, dedicated to Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar, the maharaja of Mysore, is an underplayed work with an epic, symphonic first movement, a slow movement with open intervals that sounds a bit like the piano concerto Sibelius never wrote, and a stirring, foot-tapping finale. Scriabin died 100 years before the release of this album in 2015, and it makes a fine kickoff to this centenary.

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