- Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ("Emperor"), Op. 73
- Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58
Anyone concerned that the enduring Russian school of pianism might not survive the country's current chaotic state has to be heartened by the emergence of the young St. Petersburg pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, who combines the usual power and passion with a sensitive attention to very small areas of detail. Everything comes together in this recording, made for the Swedish label BIS with the Minnesota Orchestra under Osmo Vänskä, an ensemble that, as other American orchestras struggle with their identities, has vaulted into the top rank. Vänskä wisely cedes the lead role to Sudbin, whose conception of Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58," is genuinely fresh --but he and the Minnesotans match Sudbin step for step through a great range of dynamic changes. The third partner in this uniformly successful enterprise is the BIS engineering team, which steps into Minneapolis' Orchestra Hall with a collection of microphones that gets not only Sudbin's very quiet notes in the two slow movements, but also Vänskä's booming lower strings. The biggest news here is the first movement of the "Piano Concerto No. 4," which has a perhaps unparalleled breadth and diversity. The use of a different and more muscular but less subtle Steinway for the "Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 (Emperor)," is another nice touch on Sudbin's part. But the entire recording represents a triumph for the musicians and maybe even for the American Midwest, produced in a region where the traditional Western arts are in a precarious position, this is as fine a recording of these hallowed concertos as any on the market. Booklet notes are in English, French, and German.