Sonata in B minor, HXVI:32
Sonata in C, HXVI:50
Mazurkas – in D, Op.33/2; in B minor, Op.33/4
Mazurkas, Op.3 [selection]
Piano Sonata No.2 in G sharp minor, Op.19
Piano Sonata No.9 in F, Op.68 (Black Mass)
Yevgeny Sudbin (piano)
Reviewed by: Rob Pennock
Reviewed: 15 October, 2007
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin’s programme was enterprising and demanding. In the Haydn sonatas, Sudbin (born 1980) wasn’t afraid to use the sustaining pedal and make sudden changes from sotto voce to forte. In the slow movements there were some beautifully voiced arioso elements and there was even a hint of rubato. But the overall effect was episodic and two-dimensional. The rhythms needed to be more animated and there was a lack of wit, attack and a unifying line.
Medtner specialised in complex, rather anodyne, music, which does seem to attract Russian virtuosos. Unfortunately Sudbin wasn’t able to vary his tone sufficiently or disentangle the complex threads of the somewhat tenuous musical – as opposed to analytical – fabric. In the great Chopin Mazurkas, the lines, textures and rhythms were again garbled. The pianist’s mind was teeming with ideas but that he couldn’t make the works cohere.
In Scriabin’s Mazurkas Sudbin’s left-hand was imperious, but the right needed more life and violence. The Second Sonata started dreamily, yet in the rolling first climax a far greater sense of rhythmic definition and power was needed. The ‘Black Mass’ Sonata lacked true devilry, and here the pianist’s inability to produce a true fff was very apparent. Try as Sudbin might, he simply couldn’t bring a sense of excitement and structure to the work. Nor, at this stage of his career, can he command a sufficiently wide range of tonal shading and dynamic nuance. Nevertheless, the performer certainly has character and in a few years’ time he may be able to rein in his impetuosity and see works as paragraphs rather than sentences.