Yevgeny Sudbin, Bristol

The Russian pianist gives an overwhelming performance of Scriabin

Yevgeny Sudbin, Bristol
Yevgeny Sudbin

A demonic thread ran through Yevgeny Sudbin's Bristol programme, loosely uniting music by the seemingly unrelated Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Scriabin and Saint-Saëns. Even genial Papa Haydn was in a black mood: Sudbin dispatched his B minor Sonata with grand gestures, forceful dialogue and a restless energy. As the Russian pianist explained in his vivid programme notes for his solo recital at St George's, this was the closest Haydn came to Beethoven. But Beethoven's Op. 126 Bagatelles, which followed, seemed steely and unsettled in comparison, as if Sudbin wasn't quite willing to give the music the time it needed. The final presto became a tempestuous outburst, shocking in its violence. This pianist was baying for blood.

Sudbin's supple strength came into its own in Chopin's Third Ballade, turning A flat major innocence into a piece of poetry. A short Chopinesque Scriabin provided a bridge from heaven to hell, to Scriabin's Black Mass Sonata, described by Sudbin as 'the sickest piece I know'. The music writhed as if he was seeing dark visions; this was a virtuosic tour de force that seemed to plumb the depths of the soul. And in terms of technique and musical temperament, it seemed as if Scriabin's music was what Sudbin was born to play. His own version of Liszt and Horowitz's transcription of Saint-Saëns's Danse Macabre was equally staggering - the audience jumping to its feet at the end. Two encores included Scriabin's Fifth Sonata. Sudbin attacked the piano as if wrestling gruesome monsters. I don't need to tell you who won.

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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