Facing the music: Yevgeny Sudbin




Yevgeny Sudbin D. Scarlatti : Sonata in F minor, K.466


How do you mostly listen to music?
The times when I most often find myself listening to classical music seems to be in the second halves of concerts after having performed a concerto in the first half (I usually try to stay on and listen). These are some of the rare occasions when I don’t associate classical music with also having to perform it myself in the immediate future, and hence I find it more enjoyable. It may sound strange, but a lot of the time classical music just makes me anxious so I don’t listen to it as much as it seems to be expected of a musician, especially during a busy touring season.
What was the first record or cd you bought?
Back at home in St Petersburg we had a box of LPs from the Russian classical label Melodiya which I would rummage through when I was three or four. The one I would put on the most was Gilel’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, to which I would play along on our upright piano called Red October (it did look like a little like a submarine but the sound was nice and resonant, especially in the bass). A few years later, I was given an Elton John CD by someone who felt I should expand my horizons. It made me think that everyone in England wears funny glasses, and later, when I auditioned for the Royal Academy of Music in London (where Elton John also happened to have studied), I was disappointed to find out that this was not the case.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I’m past the age where I feel “guilty” about any pleasures, but my small kids love listening to soundtracks from their favourite movie cartoons in the car and I find myself (secretly) enjoying their enjoyment of it. After repeated listens some of it has grown on me, for example the music (I think it’s by James Horner) for the cute dinosaur movie The Land Before Time.
If you found yourself with six months free to learn a new instrument, what would you choose?
If I had six months off, why on earth would I want to learn more instruments!? I’ve yet to meet a brain surgeon who likes to perform knee surgeries as a hobby or an accountant who likes to fill out other people’s spreadsheets to relax. As a musician, one chooses a specific path in life at a very early stage, and the rest of your life journey becomes in many ways much more restricted than a “normal” person’s (even though this may not appear this way from to an outside observer). But life has so much to offer that it would be a real pity to ever only experience one narrow aspect of it.
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