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In his notes to this anthology, Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin opines that, in a way, the very young are sometimes best fitted to play Chopin, as they can be free from the accretions of conceptions and misconceptions about that composer. As an example, he cites the young Evgeny Kissin – anyone who has heard that prodigy’s sublime recording of the Second Piano Concerto recorded when he was only 12 years old would have to agree.
At 31, Sudbin is somewhat older, but he approaches Chopin in what seems a wonderfully youthful and transparent way, removed from “accepted” practice or conceptions. This is a far cry from the delicate Chopin of drawing rooms or Hollywood’s image of the neurotic consumptive genius. Here instead are highly-charged, powerful accounts of some of Chopin’s strongest works, including a spectacular reading of the Ballade No 4 – Chopin with muscle.
Sudbin’s pianism is assured and constantly exciting. So is his inventiveness, as shown when he closes this recital with his own paraphrase À la Minute, a witty reinvention of the Minute Waltz as Rachmaninov might have imagined it.
The program opens with another major piece, the Fantaisie in F Minor, and the recital, which also comprises three Nocturnes, five Mazurkas and two Ballades, is perfectly varied and balanced. BIS Records has managed to give Sudbin a great recorded presence. The sound on SACD is uncannily lifelike in its sonority and precision. The disc also has a conventional audio layer, making it playable on all disc players.