One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK
Download: Classicsonline

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Sonata No.47 in B minor, Hob.XVI:32 (1774-76) [15:13]
Sonata No.60 in C major, Hob.XVI:50 (1794-95) [20:09]
Sonata No.53 in E minor, Hob.XVI:34 (pub.1783) [13:57]
Fantasia in C major, Hob.XVII:4 (1789) [6:13]
Andante con variazioni in F minor, Hob.XVII:6 (1793-94) [14:44]
Joseph HAYDN (arr. Yvgeny Subdin)
Larking with Haydn - String Quartet in D major, Op.64 No.5 (1790), Finale [3:08]
Yevgeny Subdin (piano)
rec. February, June 2009, January 2010, St George’s Bristol, England
BIS-SACD-1788 [75:10]

Experience Classicsonline
Yevgeny Sudbin was born in St Petersburg and has lived in the UK since 1997. His previous outings on the BIS label, with recitals of Scarlatti (reviewed twice on these pages) and Scriabin have all been received to great acclaim, as has Sudbin’s concerto recordings for the same label. Having, I hope, made it through my little hyperlink minefield, it is clearly apparent that Mr. Sudbin has established an enviable reputation, and for those to whom his name is already familiar, this release will be another shot in the arm of fine collections of piano recordings the world over.

There are quite a few rather special recordings of Haydn piano sonatas, but with 51 in the catalogue there are few pianists who would even consider tackling the whole lot, John McCabe on Decca being a distinguished exception, Jeno Jandó a highly competent if marginally less distinguished budget alternative on Naxos. There are a few fortepiano recordings both complete and ongoing, the Brilliant Classics one offers a different kind of Haydn to that on a modern grand piano, as does the excellent BIS complete set played by Ronald Brautigam. A pianist whose recordings have impressed me in recent years is Ragna Schirmer, and hers is the kind of cleanly unpretentious and witty playing with which I would compare Yevgeny Sudbin’s performances here. Schirmer gives Haydn every chance to shine and blossom in recordings which are crisp and full of colour, warm and clear at the same time, carrying us away with the music’s message, alive to the echoes of past music and the surprisingly potent emotional charge which can be surprising to find in this composer.

This is not so much a ‘better than’ kind of review, but I find it is useful to have a reference and a starting point from which to evaluate a new recording of an idiom which is familiar, even if the pieces don’t overlap. Yevgeny Sudbin has that lightness of touch which is essential for good Haydn, and especially good Haydn at the keyboard. The opening Allegro moderato movement of the Sonata No.47 in B minor says much about the rest of this programme, with richness of contrast and moments of drama fully exploited between music of almost naive simplicity. This simplicity is as important to Sudbin as every other aspect of this music. The thinning of texture to two-part lines which suggest harmony as much as proclaim it are all superbly rendered, sometimes held to the middle of the keyboard, sometimes turning the left hand into and orchestral bass section or a driving rhythmic leaping thing which serves multiple functions. The Minuet of this sonata is a development on this kind of purity of expression, and Sudbin knows exactly what he is doing, shaping phrases with elegance and a sense of proportion which seems to provide all answers: ‘yes, this is how it should sound.’

If I were to compare Sudbin and Schirmer then, by a small margin, Sudbin seems to explore depths ‘into’ or ‘within’ the notes a bit more, digging a little deeper where Schirmer sparkles and shines with a more twinkly kind of wit. This is all by a marginal degree however – Sudbin sparkles and Schirmer digs as well, just take the Finale: presto of this sonata for some crackling at the keyboard from Sudbin, with the minor key providing a reason for that extra layer of dark passion.

Following a minor key with a major, in this case the Sonata No.60 in C major is a good idea, and Sudbin lifts us high and carries us all the way in the opening Allegro, which is as full of smiles as a comedy turn by Michael Macintyre. His own booklet notes tell us something of how Sudbin approaches Haydn: “Is laughter the best medicine? I certainly hope so and would not hesitate to prescribe a healthy dose of Joseph Haydn twice daily.” Haydn’s humour is not to be found in heavy jokes, but in the very nature of the music itself. Any darkness is more often than not provided as a foil a contrast to those delightful moments of wit, and sometimes, as in this movement the ideas are so fun-filled that such moments need only be held for a few bars in the minor, or a segment of sublime beauty at 6:50 where the pedal suspends the music on a waft of mist for a mere moment. Sublime beauty is the essence of the Adagio of this sonata, and Sudbin traverses its measures with a good deal of freedom, creating a fascinating musical narrative in which you can become lost for what seems like a good deal longer than its 5:53 duration, but which you would gladly have last for a dreaming while longer. Sudbin has combined some of the original material from an earlier version of this movement, which was later revised to fit in with the outer movements of the sonata. I admire this kind of creative license and research based attitude, getting the best out of the music by exploring further beyond the notes on the page than would most musicians. The results certainly speak for themselves.

Elements of Scarlatti appear with the rippling passing ornaments thrown in with effortless ease by Sudbin in the Sonata No.53 in E minor. The contrast between the spectacular Presto and the almost invisible following Adagio could hardly be greater. Sudbin plays the Adagio with such transparency that light and air shine through the whole time: it’s like a single mote of dust floating down to land, slowly and gently, onto a crystal shimmering in a bath of late afternoon sunlight. The sunshine moods anticipate Beethoven in the final Vivace molto, with quicksilver harmonic twists and turns which are still pretty breathtaking even 230 years after they were conceived. About one minute in the mood shifts several gears at once, and we are taken on a journey far beyond expectations.

The Andante con Variazioni follows and refines the model of C.P.E. Bach, involving major and minor variations alternately. Some say this was written as a kind of memorial to Mozart for, although there are smiling moments, these are as poignant as they are jovial, and the mood of the music is certainly more tragic than comic. Refinement and poise, sensitivity and grace are all words which spring to mind for both the piece and this performance, which is given with admirable restraint, reserving the emotional core of the work for a penultimate outburst at 12:39.

To end the programme with a flourish, Yevgeny Sudbin gives us an encore in the form of his arrangement or ‘pianistic impression’ of the finale of Haydn’s String Quartet in D major, Op.64 No.5. “I find [the string quartets] all addictive. Just as his sonatas are incredibly communicative and chamber-music like, his chamber music strikes me as having a very pianistic potential.” Larking with Haydn is therefore Sudbin’s ‘affectionate tribute’ to the Great Master, and one which fits in very well with the vibrant nature of the release as a whole. In fact this whole disc is of course a fine tribute to Haydn, showing once again how alive and resonant his music even today. The entertainment factor is high with this disc, but superficial show is never the basis of the music or the playing. I’m a big fan of the St George’s pleasantly resonant acoustic, and it works very well for the solo piano and this music, with the SACD quality transplanting you straight to Bristol’s top chamber music location. Superbly recorded performances such as these do exactly what Sudbin hopes, seeing Haydn “taken much more seriously, in an unserious sort of way.”

Dominy Clements



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.