Denis Matsuev

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Denis Matsuev Presented Tutorials and Printed Music to Novosibirsk Region's Music Schools

November became a memorable month for cultural life of Novosibirsk. Publishing House "Music"- "P.Jurgenson" with International Charity Foundation of P.I. Tchaikovsky and with participation of Bank Group ZENITH accomplished the joint project. All music schools of Novosibirsk got a considerable amount of tutorials, textbooks and sheet music from Publishing House "Music".

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The LSO and Gergiev in Brahms and Szymanowski 4

The first half of the 20th century must surely be one of the most richly creative periods in history. This was a time of great social and political change, spearheaded by two most devastating wars that saw death and destruction on a new level of cold efficiency. Rising from the ashes of this massive upheaval, the arts produced a glorious outpouring of works and ideas not seen since the renaissance and never on this scale. In the world of music, the flowering of talented composers born in the last quarter of the 19th century, produced an embarrassment of riches, to such an extent that it was possible to consign a composer as talented as Szymanowski to the second rank.

Following in the footsteps of Simon Rattle and Charles Dutoit, it is all credit to Valery Gergiev that he is also championing this miraculous, if still peripheral, composer. To hear this music so luxuriously played by the London Symphony Orchestra seemed like the perfect way to experience it. This music has a surface richness and virtuosity that cries out for a first-rate orchestra and a conductor in tune with the toughness at its core – certainly delivered in spades, in this most memorable concert.

Two works by Szymanowski occupied the substantial first half of the evening. Both late works, they show the composer at his most rounded and contained, while not losing that essential wildness and rapturous quality which are unique to him. The oddly categorised Symphony no. 4, “Symphonie Concertante” of 1932 is a piano concerto in all but name and as such easily stands up to comparison with the great works by Bartók and Prokofiev of the same period. As performed by Gergiev and his powerful pianist Denis Matsuev, this was a performance that struck one as energetic and bold, but also giving time for the work to breathe and expand as needed. In the first movement, the balance between the ruminative opening subject and the more dynamic second group of ideas was nicely maintained and the overall effect was passionate but organic. Matusev found just the right level of forcefulness and melting delicacy.

This latter quality was much in evidence in the second movement with its piano part gently accompanying solos from the strings and woodwind, while always being somehow in control of the musical flow. In the great central climax the sense of elation overflows into a great string melody, which once again melts into the piano roulades, all beautifully judged by Gergiev and Matsuev. In the final movement all these positive musical qualities once again surfaced to produce and an exciting and satisfying conclusion to an excellent performance of an inspired work. The frenetic Polish highland dance that ends the work took the breath away with its controlled power.

The secret to performing Szymanowski’s music, so clearly understood by Gergiev in these performances, is to hold onto that fine line between classical restraint and total abandon and then to make it all sound completely spontaneous. This he and his soloist Leonidas Kavakos achieved even more successfully in their performance of the Violin Concerto no. 2 that followed. Perhaps a greater work that the symphony and possibly its composer’s best work, this concerto has all the ingredients that make Szymanowski so exceptional. Gergiev and Kavakos certainly got to its core.

Once again, it’s all about balance, and Kavakos took as his starting point a reasonable mid-point of restraint. The opening passage was warm but not effusive, and this mesmerising stillness once created, he was able to return to it as the music required. At other times he opened out with a lusher sound, or in tougher folk dance passages, he would dazzle with rock-solid rhythmic impetus and thrilling double-stopping. The ebb and flow of this piece was so wonderfully captured, that I’m sure many of the audience left this performance wondering why the they hadn’t heard it before and or why it wasn’t in the repertoire of most concert violinists.

And then we ended with the Brahms. Odd bedfellows, you might think, but somehow it worked. Brahms is another composer that needs a fine balancing act between restraint and passion, and the Symphony no. 4 is the most perfect example of this duality in his orchestral music. If performed as it was by the Gergiev and the LSO, it sounded strangely reminiscent of Wagner or Bruckner, but with many fewer of the former’s longueurs or the obsessive “logic” of the latter. It certainly put paid to Britten’s insistence that Brahms’ music was “dull”, “stolid”, “pretentious”. There was not, as you might be forgiven for expecting, a touch of Tchaikovsky or even a Russian accent.

The first movement tempo seemed initially to be a little leisurely, but then it became obvious that Gergiev’s overall conception was to emphasise the grand sweep, leading the inevitably to the climatic coda.

Submitted by Chris Garlick on 17th December 2012


Annecy Classic Festival et son mécène russe providentiel

Jusqu’au 29 août, le Annecy Classic Festival s’installe sur les bords de celle qu’on surnomme la Venise des Alpes. Une cinquième édition qui se joue à guichets fermés. Une réussite que savourent d’autant plus les organisateurs que le festival a bien failli disparaître. Il doit sa survie et une partie de son succès à un mécène russe, Andreï Cheglakov.

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Les musiciens russes enflamment le lac bleu

Le pianiste Denis Matsuev a notamment brillamment ouvert le 5e Annecy Classic Festival.

S'il est un compositeur qui justifie toutes les audaces virtuoses, c'est bien lui. Franz Liszt, le visionnaire transcendantal du clavier romantique, n'a pas laissé que des pièces de bravoure solistes. Ses deux concertos pour piano, ainsi que sa danse macabre Totentanz, sont aussi des sommets de technicité véloce qui, pour peu qu'ils trouvent interprète à leur mesure, font toujours un effet bœuf. Il y a trois ans, le pianiste russe Denis Matsuev interprétait les trois œuvres d'affilée pour le bicentenaire du compositeur, à Budapest. Prouesse qui lui valut le surnom de «Liszt de Sibérie».

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Champion Plays Ravinia

He calls Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin “a big friend of mine.” His heroes are Vladimir Horowitz and star hockey center Sergei Fedorov. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, who has “epic technique” according to the Boston Globe, is not shy about talking sports. In a 2009 Impromptu, he told WFMT that as a youth in Siberia, he could hardly be kept indoors. He played either soccer or ice hockey “about seven hours a day. Music was second.” Speaking with a gentle Russian growl, he laughs about breaking his fingers three times, “My parents was shocked. My parents is musician, my mother and father – all pianists.”

“Sochi’s closing ceremony…[had] piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev emerge from a cloud of smoke and blast through a Rachmaninov composition like he was playing Metallica. It was amazing.”

—Alex Heigl, People magazine

Although Matsuev chose the piano over hockey, his competitive nature hasn’t softened. In 1998, he won the gold medal at the Tchaikovsky Competition.

During his 2009 visit to WFMT, Matsuev described receiving a challenge of a different kind from one whose name is Rachmaninoff: “It was two and a half years ago, grandson of Rachmaninoff – his name Alexander, Alexander Rachmaninoff – came in my concert at Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris. After my recital, he told me (very fun), he told me, ‘when you don’t smoke, I give you some present.’ I don’t smoke but maybe one cigarette after the concert…no more! I told him I never smoke, I don’t smoke, where is my present? He told me, ‘I present you new piece of Rachmaninoff – unknown piece of Rachmaninoff.’”

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Zoltan Kocsis et Denis Matsuev: un duo de choc

Denis Matsuev est une nature. Un phénomène. On le sait. Mais dans le 2e Concerto et la Totentanz de Liszt, on ne peut qu’être saisi par l’adéquation entre la virtuosité visionnaire des œuvres et celle du pianiste. Matsuev fond le clavier dans le métal, l’air et l’eau, et provoque des jaillissements sonores d’un autre monde. Puissance, pyrotechnie digitale, liberté musicale: dans ce registre, le Sibérien dépasse les touches pour atteindre directement le son. Et le bonheur de son jeu est électrisant. Pas une note ne lui échappe, pas un soupir ne lui résiste. La folie instrumentale de la Totentanz semble s’effacer sous ses doigts implacables et insaisissables. On peut chercher la petite bête. La palette des couleurs, la hauteur d’esprit, une certaine délicatesse musicale. Rien ne tient. L’interprète balaie d’un revers de glissando les arguments de la raison, du style et des codes. Il arrache le piano du sol et transporte Liszt dans la quatrième dimension. La sienne, en somme…

Sur l’estrade, Zoltan Kocsis met son regard à l’écoute, et son corps, traversé de notes, répond à chaque mélodie. Il connaît ces partitions diaboliques pour les avoir jouées, lui aussi. A la baguette, cette intimité de pianiste à pianiste rend le meilleur: un accompagnement fusionnel, attentif, sensible et aimant. Suivi dans cette complicité par un Philharmonique de Saint-Pétersbourg compact, souple et engagé, le chef et pianiste hongrois peut lâcher les rênes dans les Danses slaves de Dvorák. Tout roule, tout coule, tout chante. Avec chaleur, tendresse et vitalité. La rythmique est tenue serré, les harmonies rayonnent et les mélodies livrent leur beau miel d’Est. Un régal.

Le Temps


Annecy Music Festival

The Fifth Annecy Classical Music Festival is approaching. During these five years that have flown by so fast, the festival has already become traditional. 

I’d like to share an interesting observation from my life with you: I’ve noticed that seasons of the year sound for me like the festivals that are held during these months. And if September is Irkutsk and “Stars on Baikal” or London and “Proms”, January – “Christmas meetings” in Irkutsk, March-April - Easter Festival, June - St. Petersburg and “Stars of the White Nights”, July is Verbier, Salzburg and Ravinia, August is definitely Annecy. 

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Denis Matsuev is the featured artist in next season’s UBS Soundscapes: LSO Artist Portrait series

Fruitful cooperation of Denis Matsuev with LSO continues. "It is the great honour to me to be selected the resident artist of the new season and to perform with one of the best orchestras of the world under baton of my friend Valery Gergiev. The season will be opened with concerts at the Barbican Hall with Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #2 on September, 21 and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto #3 on September, 23. Two more concerts in London will take place in November, I’ll perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2. We will visit together a huge number of countries in Europe (Italy, Slovakia, Greece, France and others), Australia and Singapore. The programme includes Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2, - said Denis Matsuev - I invite all to these concerts."


Blog #26

Yesterday absolutely unusual improvised concert took place. I repeat time after time that the best concert always is based on improvisation, and this concert was a proof of that. Unexpectedly I found myself in Drvengrad, cultural oasis, created by the efforts of one man - Emir Kusturica. He really managed to create his own planet of art, which attracts creative people from all over the world. I experienced emotional upheaval of what I saw here. Every detail in this village is somehow connected to work and life of Kusturica. There is a street of Fellini and a street of Diego Maradona. The wooden town almost all is the scenery for the movie "Life is a Miracle," which was filmed here. Wooden, very picturesque, in folk style huts. It is a unique ethno village, that makes a strong impression on every visitor.

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DVD and BlueRay edition of the Closing Ceremony of Annecy Classic Music Festival 2013

This DVD-record was made at the closing ceremony of the classical music Annecy Classic Festival 2013, at which I’ve been working as artistic director for already four years, I am very pleased that this festival has such a powerful development during this time, and it really got into the elite of European festivals. I think that first of all it was due to the fact that we have managed to gather friends and create a great team. "Friends" and "team" are key words, as in everyday life, and in cultural, festival, concert life. Of course, one of the main factors of this success is the fact that for four years one of the most outstanding conductors Y. Temirkanov with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra has come to us, in Annecy, for these four years and that the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the festival. 

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Reviews on American Tour of Denis Matsuev

Pianist Denis Matsuev’s power overwhelms

Even in today’s overrun piano virtuoso market, Denis Matsuev stands out. On the evidence of his recordings, he possesses an epic technique, playing with seemingly superhuman speed, power, and agility.

At his Saturday recital in Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, it was pleasant to discover that Matsuev can also produce the kind of singing tone and silvery pianissimo most pianists only dream about.

In his curtain-raiser, Matsuev responded with grace and swagger to the impish brilliance of Haydn’s Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI: 52. The masterly second movement showed Matsuev at something like his best, demonstrating suave phrasing and extraordinary tonal refinement.

Boston Globe

Seth Herbst 

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