Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor, K. 491; Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Yevgeny Sudbin/Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
The young Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin has already shown himself an unusually insightful pianist, an impression reinforced by the eloquent and searching performances captured here. Listen to the sensitivity of his phrasing in his first appearance in the Mozart: each entrance growing softer, more hesitant, as the music strays further from the home key, then darkening as the music is drawn, inexorably, back to the darkness of C minor. Unlike many other Russian pianists of his generation, Sudbin’s playing has lightness, flexibility, and a variance of touch perfect for making Mozart sound fresh. But there’s also no shortage of power when it’s called for, as in the finale of the Mozart and the opening movement of the Beethoven, which is bracing but never heavy. Sudbin even provides his own extroverted cadenzas for the Mozart, and though he writes self-deprecatingly of them in a program note, they are riveting and need no apology.
As impressive as the soloist is, this release is even more important for marking the reemergence of the Minnesota Orchestra after a crippling lockout that came close to ending the orchestra’s illustrious career. Though the orchestra is again performing, mistrust between its board and players remains, as does a question about the future of Osmo Vänskä, who resigned as music director during the crisis. What a joy, then, to hear the orchestra play so marvelously. Though Vänskä accompanies with tact and deference throughout, the unity and polish of its playing shines through. Here’s hoping this wonderful CD betokens brighter days ahead.