Such a coupling is unusual on CD these days. However, bearing in mind that Beethoven was influenced by the Mozart concerto, the juxtaposition is appropriate. Yevgeny Sudbin is talked of as one of the top pianists of the new century. I ran comparisons of his Beethoven with one of the benchmarks, the old Emil Gilels recording from 1954. I also chose a contemporary recording with François-Frédéric Guy on Naïve. In every way this new recording matches the Gilels.
Sudbin’s evenly measured runs, with just enough lift in the middle of each phrase to keep the performances from sounding too academic, evinces a superb technique. Similarly his elegant and stylishly executed turns are almost cheeky as he exhibits the balance required between power and delicacy demanded from the best Beethoven performers. Guy is gentlemanly by comparison. The Mozart is notable for the balance between soloist and orchestra. If you think you can hear Beethoven coming through the Mozart at times, then so do I.
The orchestra is on superb form. Vänskä is not simply an attentive accompanist, but a partner in these adventures. One can see why the Critics’ Circle gave Sudbin the 2013 Exceptional Young Talent award. It is sad to read that the Minnesota Orchestra is in such trouble and Osmo Vänskä has been let go.