We are delighted to welcome back Yevgeny Sudbin who memorably thrilled us when he visited in 2009. Sudbin has been hailed as potentially one of the greatest pianists of the 21st century. His recitals and recordings have met critical acclaim wherever in the world he has played. Geoffrey Norris in The Telegraph described his playing of Chopin as ‘glorious’ and what he termed a ‘blistering’ performance of a Scriabin sonata as evoking ‘sheer demonic terror’. There could be no better way to start our 2017‑18 season than with this unmissable event.
Tonight's programme culminates in two works by Scriabin. Sudbin himself has written an essay on the intense effects that Scriabin's music has had on him and sometimes on his listeners. This is an extract:
Oh how easy it is to become possessed by Scriabin, one of the most enigmatic and controversial artistic personalities of all time. Once one is bitten and the venom, in the form of his sound world, enters the body and soul, the effects become all-encompassing, even life-threatening! Not only emotionally - as one's desperate quest for answers only results in more questions - but also physically, the reactions can be severe. Scriabin was not only the first to introduce madness into music; he also managed to synthesize it into an infectious virus that is entirely music-borne and affects the psyche in a highly irrational way.
Thus 'mystical experiences' have been reported by listeners. One London critic described: 'In my own case, on two occasions, I have seen radiant flashes of blinding coloured lights during performances of Scriabin's music... It was totally different from the "thrill" of sensation or "tears" of pleasure, those emotions more commonly associated with conventional music... ' Others describe having visions of waves of light, golden ships on violet oceans, and bolts of fire during performances, even without the help of LSD. In all seriousness, however: if the effects are as radical on the receiving end, they are certainly no less intense on the performer's part.
What is it about Scriabin that makes his venom so poisonous? Apart from being a composer-pianist, poet, solipsist, semi-, neo- and theophilosopher, musical thaumaturge and mystagogue - and those were only his part-time jobs - he was, above all, a visionary way ahead of his time.
"No pianist of any generation has, in my experience, captured Scriabin's volatility so vividly as Sudbin... All these performances are flecked with personal touches and brilliances above and beyond even Scriabin's wildest demands..."The Gramophone
It was with great sadness that we learned of the death of Janet Blackman. Janet was a distinguished senior lecturer in Social and Economic History at the University of Hull and an active supporter of the arts in our area for over half a century. In her retirement, she particularly enjoyed going to concerts, becoming an enthusiastic and faithful member of the Hull Chamber Music audience. She left a generous donation to HCM in her will, for which we are very grateful.