- Prelude for piano No.24 in D flat major, Op. 32/13
- Prelude for piano No.23 in G sharp minor, Op. 32/12
- Prelude for piano No.17 in F minor, Op. 32/6
- Prelude for piano No.16 in G major, Op. 32/5
- Prelude for piano No.6 in G minor, Op. 23/5
- Prelude for piano No.5 in D major, Op. 23/4
- Sonata tragica for piano (Forgotten Melodies, Vol. 2), Op. 39/5
- Sonata-Reminiscenza for piano in A minor, Op. 38/1
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One of the attractions of the recordings by pianist Yevgeny Sudbin is that he generally writes his own notes, which are literate and imbued with same expressive insight he brings to his playing. Sudbin has championed the music of the semi-obscure Nikolai Medtner, whom Rachmaninov called the greatest composer of his time. Here Sudbin writes that in Medtner's music "complexity (whether rhythmic or polyphonic) is only a tool to bring out highly emotional content." And this needle is the one that Sudbin threads so effectively. Consider (and sample) the curiously titled "Sonata-Reminscenza, Op. 38, No. 1" (track 3), which Sudbin contends "might be regarded as Medtner's reflection of the difficult times in Russia: it was composed between 1918 and 1920. The single-movement work is in a clear sonata form, overlaid by virtuoso effects that convey a deeply unsettled quality. In Sudbin's hands all the music has this monumental yet interior quality, in which the pianist seems to commune with the composer as few others have. The six assorted preludes from Rachmaninov's "Op. 23" and "Op. 32" sets are the ideal complement, equally virtuosic but more straightforwardly poetic. This is a superb recording of Russian music of the early 20th century, one that will find a place in many collections that lack the fascinating figure of Medtner.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Unbelievable performances of 7 Medtner works and 6 Rachmaninov Preludes This SACD consists of 7 primarily short works of Nikolai Medtner and 6 short preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov. Those of us that gravitate toward Medtner’s piano pieces simply can’t get enough of them, and it is rare indeed to hear any of them performed well live. And while nothing can replace the magic of a live performance, Yevgeny Sudbin’s work recorded herein is a wonderful substitute. His Medtner *sings*, each beautiful melody pouring forth from the speakers. The prologue from Stimmungsbilder (track 1) is just captivating, and each of the 3 Fairy Tale works (Op. 51 No. 3, Op. 20 No. 1, and Op. 26 No. 1) is a thing of beauty unto itself. In the extremely well written liner notes, Mr. Sudbin describes the polyrhythms that are a hallmark of Medtner’s music, and the way in which they interact to create the central melodies of some of the pieces. It is clear that Mr. Sudbin loves these works, and that he takes great care in bringing them to life. And the results are glorious. The 6 Rachmaninov Preludes featured here (Op 23 No. 4 and No. 5, Op. 32 No. 5, No. 6, No. 12, and No. 13) are equally challenging, the musical material being more dense and less ethereal sounding – for lack of a better way to describe it. Mr. Sudbin uses the term “celestial”, which is also quite accurate. The first in D Major is gorgeous and flowing, while the second presented in G minor is particularly well known and exceptionally well played, the rum-pa-pa-pum rhythm feeling natural with Mr. Sudbin at the helm. The prelude in G Major, a short 2 minute and 48 second work, is just one of the most gorgeous things ever written for the piano, and the presentation here is simply stunning. The last three preludes here, in F minor, G sharp minor (the bell-like sounds here are unbelievably gripping) and D flat major, are also extremely well played, but for me the G Major prelude is a highlight of this CD. This is an amazing recording, each work challenging even for a virtuoso as talented as Mr. Sudbin and played with care and the knowledge that the music must be brought to life. And Mr. Sudbin gives us everything he has toward that end. This is a must-have SACD. Very Highly Recommended!
A perusal of Mr. Sudbin’s discography reveals that both Medtner and Rachmaninoff figure prominently. The playing on this lovely new collection is characterized by a well-judged balance between poetry and muscularity. The evocation of color is subtle, never garish. The lush harmonies and dense textures favored by both composers are elegantly navigated by the pianist. Mr. Sudbin’s shaping of the lyrical/dramatic arc of each piece, whether the miniatures or more extended compositions, is wholly compelling. Articulation and rhythmic precision are executed at a consistently high level. Mr. Sudbin’s affection for this late Romantic material shines through in every measure and is clearly verbalized in his enthusiastic liner notes. The sound pickup attained by the engineers is a perfect synthesis of detail and ambience. This is especially true of the Super Audio format.