Thursday, January 20, 2011

SATOSHI on Yevgeny Sudbin

Russian-born Yevgeny Sudbin is no Lang Lang or Yundi Li, not because he is a lesser pianist but because he has built a career ignoring the major international piano competition circuit. “I felt it was not the way to build a career, so I tried a different route,” he says over the phone from London.

He was in Hong Kong yesterday for a piano recital at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. Below is the link to my interview with Yevgeny Sudbin for Time-Out Hong Kong, which was published in their January 19 issue.

http://www.timeout.com.hk/music/features/39888/yevgeny-sudbin.html
I did go to the recital and do check out the review which should come out in the next few days.

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Posted in Time-Out on January 19 2011

Yevgeny Sudbin

Satoshi Kyo chats to the Russian pianist about rivaling Horowitz

Russian-born Yevgeny Sudbin is no Lang Lang or Yundi Li, not because he is a lesser pianist but because he has built a career ignoring the major international piano competition circuit. “I felt it was not the way to build a career, so I tried a different route,” he says over the phone from London. Instead, Sudbin has simply wowed some of the most discriminating and influential critics in the classical music scene, and as described in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, “is already hailed as potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century.”

Sudbin has been an acclaimed recording artist for several years now, since his debut CD of Scarlatti sonatas in 2005 – the first of 14 album collaborations with BIS records – was picked as an Editor’s Choice in iconic classical music magazine Gramophone, with the publication calling it “a magnificent solo debut and a Scarlatti recital to rival the best!” (The ‘best’ being none other than Horowitz, the very legend who popularised the Scarlatti sonatas). It’s fitting then that on Wednesday 19 Sudbin will open his debut Hong Kong recital with three Scarlatti sonatas. “I always enjoy opening a recital with a couple of Scarlatti sonatas. I think it is also a tradition because Horowitz used to do that and now other pianists often do it,” he says, also explaining his reasons for choosing the K466, K455 and K27 specifically. “They are three very, very different sonatas in character and musical idea; and you can do a lot with them in terms of mood and articulation.”

Accompanying Scarlatti in the first half of the recital will be four “sarcastic” Shostakovich preludes and two “tricky” Chopin ballades, followed after the interval by Liszt’s Transcendental Etude No. 11 in D flat “Harmonies du Soir” and Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit. On the Chopin ballades, he gingerly explains, “As a child, I found playing Chopin, in a way, was easier because I didn’t think too much. Now, I spend a lot of time thinking and analysing it; and when you start doing that, you become much more self-conscious and self-aware and I don’t know whether that does any good. The best performances of Chopin are when the pianist just plays how he feels; and that is when he can really touch the listener.”

Touching the listener seems to come relatively easily to Sudbin. What doesn’t come so effortlessly, it seems, is taking the praise of being “potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century”. “I think that is the question that I get asked most often, but I don’t want to mention it because I try not to think about it,” he admits, after a quick intake of breathe. “My agent likes it a lot, but my own ambitions are quite modest and that is to play in halls that I feel comfortable playing in, with orchestras that I feel comfortable playing with and the pieces that I like.”

Yevgeny Sudbin performs at the APA on Wednesday 19. Tickets: 3128 8288; www.hkticketing.com.

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