Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vanska - Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (2017)

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Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vanska - Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (2017)

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (2017)
Yevgeny Sudbin, piano; Tapiola Sinfonietta; Osmo Vänskä conductor

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 234 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 146 Mb | Artwork included
Genre: Classical | Label: BIS | # BIS-SACD-2078 | Time: 01:03:19

On two previous discs, Yevgeny Sudbin and Osmo Vänskä have released Beethoven’s three last piano concertos to critical acclaim. Distinctions include Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and the performances have been described as ‘electrifying’ (classicfm.com), ‘absolutely stunning’ (Fanfare) and ‘a Beethoven experience you will not want to miss’ (ClassicsToday.com).

For the final disc in their cycle, Sudbin and Vänskä have travelled to Helsinki to team up with Tapiola Sinfonietta, one of the top Nordic ensembles, and well suited for these earlier and more classical of Beethoven’s concertos. Of the two, the one we now know as the Second was actually begun several years before Concerto No. 1, and indeed even before Beethoven left Bonn for Vienna. During the following decade, Beethoven returned to the score repeatedly and made substantial revisions – including composing a new final movement – and ultimately the C major concerto reached publication first. Both concertos were conceived long before Beethoven's involvement with the symphonic genre, and the influence of Mozart and Haydn is evident in the interaction between the orchestra and the soloist – but Beethoven's individual spirit is nevertheless unmistakeable.

Let me lay out information first of all: this is the conclusion of Yevgeny Sudbin’s cycle of the five Beethoven concertos that began, back to front, with an issue of Nos 4 and 5 together (4/11) and continued with a coupling of No 3 in C minor with the Mozart C minor Concerto (No 24), K491 (5/14). Osmo Vänskä has been the conductor throughout, with the Tapiola Sinfonietta here and previously with the Minnesota Orchestra. I note for now that the first CD was received with enthusiasm and was an Editor’s Choice; the next, in which No 3 was paired with the Mozart, fared less well.

It is impossible to hold back from admiration for Sudbin in whatever he plays, thanks to his brilliance and hallmark exuberance. He has much to say and he wants us to listen. You may feel the hyperactive style he brings to the outer movements of these concertos is just what they require. I am not so sure. The exuberance, for me, tips over to a cat-on-hot-bricks manner that too often seems a default position and wearisome. ‘Halt,’ I want to cry, ‘couldn’t you please occasionally calm down a bit?’ Need sforzato accents always be like touches of a whip and scales the length of a piece of string? Vänskä and the orchestra are willing partners. I resist too their bass-heavy sound world, built around microphone placements, which projects a nervy, fidgety view of dynamics in which a level is rarely sustained for its full term. Try the opening of the C major Concerto (No 1) – marked pianissimo until a crescendo leads into the first fortissimo at bar 16 – as an example of what I mean. To me, this is so much more exciting if the very quiet martial energy at the beginning is held taut. It’s the sort of detail a great conductor with a major orchestra and demanding soloist will agree upon and get right.

Oh dear, I’m sounding grouchy. I want the prospect of admiring Sudbin as much in Beethoven as in Scarlatti and Scriabin; but it is not there. He is sparky and generous with impulses and good ideas, but restless. The Largo of the C major Concerto, the longest slow movement in all the concertos, shows how the best of ‘early’ Beethoven is every bit as characteristic as the later, with an appreciation, in this instance, of the clarinet and solo writing for it that he never surpassed. I treated myself to Sony Classical’s box of Sviatoslav Richter’s complete live and studio recordings for RCA and Columbia; seek it out if you can for the performance he gave with Charles Munch and the Boston SO of this concerto in November 1960. Yes, from way back, I know, but incomparable.

Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny remarked that the master ‘brings out difficulties and effects on the piano that we could never have imagined’. Yevgeny Sudbin at his best is an artist capable of reminding us of that and there is plentiful evidence in these rondo finales. Don’t get me started on his cadenzas. They ignore all the material Beethoven left for Concerto No 1, which he finds wanting in various ways, playing in the first and last movements cadenzas of his own (‘based on Friedheim’). Suffer them if you can; I couldn’t possibly comment.

There’s a mistranslation in the booklet of the German note which makes a nonsense of where the cadenza comes in the first movement of the B flat Concerto (No 2).

Review by Stephen Plaistow, Gramophone

Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vanska - Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (2017)

Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vanska - Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (2017)


Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15
01. I. Allegro con brio (15:07)
02. II. Largo (10:20)
03. III. Rondo. Allegro (9:08)

Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19
04. I. Allegro con brio (13:54)
05. II. Adagio (8:19)
06. III. Rondo. Allegro molto (6:31)

Exact Audio Copy V1.1 from 23. June 2015

EAC extraction logfile from 7. June 2017, 21:38

Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vänskä / Beethoven - Piano Concertos 1 & 2

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foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2017-06-11 22:35:30

Analyzed: Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vänskä / Beethoven - Piano Concertos 1 & 2

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
DR16 -0.37 dB -23.00 dB 15:07 01-Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15 - I. Allegro con brio
DR15 -5.53 dB -27.42 dB 10:20 02-Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15 - II. Largo
DR16 -0.37 dB -22.88 dB 9:08 03-Piano Concerto No.1 in C major, Op.15 - III. Rondo. Allegro
DR16 -3.81 dB -24.53 dB 13:54 04-Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19 - I. Allegro con brio
DR14 -5.43 dB -26.12 dB 8:19 05-Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19 - II. Adagio
DR14 -4.20 dB -23.41 dB 6:31 06-Piano Concerto No.2 in B flat major, Op.19 - III. Rondo. Allegro molto

Number of tracks: 6
Official DR value: DR15

Samplerate: 44100 Hz
Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 514 kbps
Codec: FLAC

Yevgeny Sudbin, Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vanska - Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (2017)

All thanks to original releaser - A-Z

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