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This pairing of the Concertos Nos 2 and 3 completes Yevgeny Sudbin’s globe-trotting survey for BIS of Rachmaninov’s piano- and-orchestral works, following earlier issues of No 1 with the First Symphony in Singapore (BIS-2012), the original version of No 4 with Medtner’s Second in North Carolina (BIS-1728) and the Paganini Rhapsody, coupled with the Third Symphony, again in Singapore (BIS-1988).

Sudbin’s winning way with Rachmaninov’s music is manifest once again in these fine performances recorded in the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s home location in London. The sound engineers have coped well with the BBC Studio’s barn-like acoustic, resulting in a lot of space around both soloist and orchestra. While this gives the performance a not dissimilar ambience to that of a real concert hall, I would have preferred a slightly ‘closer’ sound. All the nuances of Sudbin’s at times delicate touch are caught and there is room for the more expansive sound at the larger climaxes.

In the Concerto No 2, Sudbin takes a relatively quick line through the score, almost as fast as Hough (Hyperion) in the opening Moderatoand over a minute swifter in that movement than Tharaud’s mightily impressive Erato account. His Adagio sostenutois significantly fleeter than these two exemplary rivals but still makes the movement sing as it should. In the finale, and throughout No 3, Sudbin is less markedly different in matters of tempo but, more importantly, communicates his vision of the works with clarity and persuasiveness. These are accounts that compare well with as interpretations with any forebears (Hough and Tharaud included) and certainly superior to recent rivals from Buniatishvili and (No 2 only) Giltburg. Warmly recommended despite the minor caveat of the acoustic.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Piano International, 2018 - ©Rhinegold Publishing