Sudbin’s Reading of the Scriabin Piano Concerto Beguiles Bournemouth Audience


Mussorgsky, Scriabin, Berlioz: Yevgeny Sudbin (piano) Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/ Alexander Vedernikov (conductor), The Lighthouse, Poole, 24.02. 2016. (IL)

Mussorgsky (orch. Rimsky-Korsakov) – A Night on the Bare Mountain
Scriabin – Piano Concerto
BerliozSymphonie Fantastique

The young Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin’s recording of the Scriabin Piano Concerto with Andrew Litton was released last year in time for the centenary of the composer’s death.  It won unanimous praise from the critics and was cited as a BBC Music Magazine Concerto Choice. His performance here, with the BSO under Vedernikov, confirmed, if that was necessary, his prodigious talent and empathy and sensitivity to the special Scriabin idiom which, even though an early work and under the influence of Chopin and Rachmaninov, was very idiosyncratic.  I can do no better than echo the words of my colleague, Stephen Greenbank, who reviewed the BIS recording in the classical music recordings reviews section of this site: “Sudbin displays formidable technical virtuosity, in a performance contrasting emotional intensity with melancholy and tranquility … I cannot understand  why this melodious concerto is not taken up by more pianists”.

The BSO orchestra for the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique was somewhat different from that prescribed by the composer. For instance, Berlioz requested four harps, two were used,  and Berlioz only wanted one bass drum, Vederniko had two. Verderniko drew a dynamic performance of this well-loved symphony. His ‘Ball Waltz’ sparkled the dance swirling and lilting beguilingly – one wonders how much more glitter could have been added with those extra harps. The cor anglais solo in the ‘Scene in the Country’ third movement was exquisitely rendered and excitement engendered with the evocation of threatening thunder by the four sets of timpani.  The percussion and brass section had a field day in the two succeeding movements: the ‘March to Scaffold’ and the macabre Dream of a Witches Sabbath’. The effect of the two bass drums was electrifying as was the big sound from the whole orchestra.

Witches figured in the brief Mussorgsky piece. Vedernikov conveyed  with relish all their shrewishness and satanic excesses before the piece ended in sweet tranquillity as dawn breaks.

A very enjoyable concert.  Sudbin’s Scriabin Concerto was a revelation to this reviewer.

Ian Lace

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