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Sudbin and Vänskä’s traversal through Beethoven’s piano concertos has been a backward journey: they started in 2011 in Minnesota with Nos 4 and 5 (BIS-1758), and added No 3 coupled with Mozart’s 24th in 2013 (BIS-1978). Their endeavour reaches port in Espoo, Finland, with the first two.

This is BIS’s third such cycle: others come from Elisabeth Westerholz back in the late 1980s; and more recently from the highly regarded Ronald Brautigam on fortepiano. There is even a chamber version coupling of Nos 1 and 2 featuring Fumiko Shiraga (BIS-1177) and an archival disc of Glenn Gould playing No 2 in Stockholm in 1958 (BIS-323). So this is familiar terrain for the black label.

How does this newcomer fare? It is near ideal, in my view. There’s a beautiful balance between orchestral grandeur and a chamber-like intimacy throughout both concertos that informs the playing of both Sudbin and the excellent Tapiola Sinfonietta. The effect is of a front-row perspective without overwhelming the listener, so that all the details of Sudbin’s mercurial playing and the superb accompaniment marshalled by Vänskä are captured with utmost clarity.

The Concerto No 1 here has the requisite muscular, big-boned impact, as it takes the late-Mozart concerto format and stretches it to bursting point. The finale in particular has invigorating, impulsive energy. As with Louis Schwizgebel’s account on Aparte (AP098), Sudbin’s way with the more Mozartian No 2 (written first but revised and published second) is wholly winning with more convincing tempi than many of his eminent rivals in this repertoire. A splendid conclusion to the cycle.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing