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

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Classical Review: IPO No Mere Substitute

Except for regretting Kurt Masur’s unfortunate accident that prevented him from conducting the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert last week, there was no reason for disappointment with Doron Salomon as substitute.

Russian pianist Denis Matsuev’s performance of Brahns’ Piano Concerto No. 1 was electrifying. He is a veritable bombshell of temperament, radiating passion, intensity of expression, and excitement. Powerfully convincing though his outbursts are, there is nothing exaggerated or showy about them. Not even the slightest fleeting detail is neglected, tempi are subtly flexible with no trace of rigidity, climactic highlights are significantly accentuated, nuances of dynamics are abundant, and technically demanding runs are meticulously polished.

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Bachtrack review on Denis Matsuev and Yuri Temirkanov concert

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in D minor is indeed the non plus ultra of the Romantic repertoire, famously difficult and never failing to impress. It begins unassumingly, however, with a theme in the piano likely of Russian monastic origin, to which Temirkanov’s batonless conducting provided a supple, keenly judged accompaniment. The piano writing gets very difficult very quickly, but under Matsuev’s big-boned playing, even the most severe challenges were brushed off with ease and aplomb. Projection was never an issue for him either, as he effortlessly overpowered the orchestra – there was really no contest.

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Excerpts from reviews of performances of Denis Matsuev in Chicago with Yuri Temirkanov, the Symphony Orchestra of the Baltimore and Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Chicago Tribune

No one denies that Matsuev commands as huge a technical arsenal as any pianist on the planet, or that he can vanquish Rachmaninov's most daunting keyboard writing with a nonchalant shrug. The crowd adored his virtuoso prowess…


Chicago Classical Review

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 took up the first half of the evening—a rare occurrence since the beloved keyboard showpiece invariably winds up hard to top.

Matsuev’s technical arsenal is as complete as any pianist currently before the public yet the opening minutes of Thursday’s performance were so restrained as to seem almost offhand. Matsuev clearly sees the cadenza as the climax of the first movement–the “point” as Rachmaninoff called it–and his full-metal assault on the longer cadenza was explosive in its power and massive bravura.

The soloist brought stoic elegance to the main theme of the Intermezzo as well as a wry vivacity to the scherzando middle section. The solo burst that launches the finale was daunting in its fire and attack. Others have plumbed more light and shade in the concluding movement but Matsuev’s relentless buildup of momentum and sonority was undeniably thrilling, accelerating to a thunderous and virtuosic coda.

Matsuev earned one of the longest and most rousing ovations of the season with repeated curtain calls. Finally, he relented with an encore of Liadov’s A Musical Snuffbox, teasing out the music box delicacy with gentle charm and a deliciously halting rubato.


Baltimore Sun

The pianist, in an overdue visit 12 years after his last appearance with the BSO, made child's play of the score's ferocious technical demands and used the leftover energy to add welcome expressive nuance. There was an organic, inevitable quality to Matsuev's playing, which was warm-hearted without turning sentimental.


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Matsuev, il veemente sincero

L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia ospita nuovamente un recital del talentuosissimo russo Denis Matsuev. Non l’ascoltavamo dal marzo del 2014. Torna oggi proponendoci un programma simile all’ultimo. Figurano ancora Čajkovskij e Rachmaninov; ci ripropone, anche, il primo Mephisto-Walzer di Liszt, suo cavallo di battaglia. Unica incursione stricto sensu romantica è la Kreisleriana di Schumann. Una marea di bis concludono un’eccellente serata di musica, coi fuochi d’artificio, alla maniera di Matsuev.

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INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION IN MOSCOW

What was planned, despite negative economic conditions, is going to take place this spring.

My wish for organizing a competition for pianists in Moscow has been met. I’d like to thank Olga Golodets, Vladimir Medinsky, Arkady Dvorkovich for their support.

Piano is the most popular instrument in the world. The largest number of competitions and famous performers in classical music is of this specialty. We all remember Tchaikovsky Competition, where (from the time of Van Cliburn) piano specialty is in the spotlight. 

Working as the President of “New Names” Charity Foundation, I spend a lot of time looking for new young talented musicians all over Russia and former USSR republics. Ivetta Nikolaevna Voronova, who headed this Foundation before and who found me many years ago in Irkutsk, always underlined, that new younger generations were the future of “New Names”, of “Crescendo” and the most important part of our team. Thanks to our master-classes, contests, concerts, I know a lot of talented pianists under 16.

I also have piano competitions in Astana and Kiev, owing to which we’ve found new young classical music stars. So I fully understand that the level of our Moscow Competition will be very high. Dates of this new competition are from 30th of April to 5th of May.

Astana Piano Passion became famous and prestigious worldwide. And I am really grateful to Imangali Tasmagambetov for this wonderful idea and original format – Festival-Competition. There is no psychological stress from selection and failure - every participant becomes a member of our team. This approach inspired me so much that I decided to organize such festival-competition in Russia. This new Competition in Moscow will differ from all other piano competitions.

A qualifying round (video program viewing) will help us to select 15 contestants. Round II (recital) will be held in Rachmaninoff Concert Hall, and final Round III (performance with orchestra) – in Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory with brilliant State Academic Symphony Orchestra. No one will be eliminated from the Competition after Round II. All 15 participants will have a chance to perform with the orchestra in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory. There will be no First, Second, Third of Forth prize. Every participant becomes a member of our team. We’ll have 5 laureates and 10 diplomants. And Grand Prix – a grand piano from Yamaha. 

So all 15 participants are winners already, because they’ll have a chance to show their art to the public all over the world. Medici.TV agreed to become a partner of our Competition and will broadcast all rounds online. So if you won’t be able to come to Moscow in May, you can see the Competition on Medici.TV web-site. 

Jury of the Competition will be announced soon, but I can assure you, that Jury’s level will be as professional and reputable as Tchaikovsky Competition Jury was in summer 2015.

We also start the Competition web-site soon, present Competition’s General Rules and announce preliminary round. 

Thank you all for your support!

Wait for the updates!

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Les délices et délires de l’excès

Denis Matsuev est un pianiste sans équivalent sur la planète et, même, avec peu d’équivalents dans l’histoire du piano. Il combine une facilité technique qui défie l’entendement, un vrai sens du son et, cerise sur le gâteau, une âme — cette âme russe que l’on ne peut définir sans la caricaturer, mais qui combine générosité, démonstrativité et débordements.

Matsuev, c’est l’artiste sans limites et quand cela fait « splash », on s’en moque parce qu’il est comme ça ; il ne joue pas un rôle. J’ai déjà écrit que je n’avais connu qu’un seul artiste comparable : Evgueni Svetlanov. Svetlanov était le chef de l’inouï, Matsuev est le pianiste de l’invraisemblable.

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Life (and what life) and Transfigurations

Splitting the atom and turning water into wine is doable by any mortal. Perhaps only a Denis Matsuev, though can transform Tchaikovsky’s twelve salon pieces into a thundering passionate 40-minute symphonic sonata. 

It took 120 years Carnegie Hall to present the full Seasons, back in 1991, and that was logical . The dozen pieces were written month by month by Tchaikovsky, and no “real’ pianist gives them more than a second look, save for an excerpt as an encore.

Denis Matsuev, though, is not a “real” pianist. His virtuosity and energy are superhuman, his passion is as ardent as his digital proficiency. That is evident from the very first notes, and not worth discussing at this point. After all, he could tackle any of the pieces from the Tchaikovsky work with little worry. Though for the records, despite their parlor/salon expanse, Tchaikovsky didn’t stint on challenges. He had just finished his First Piano Concerto. And while he liked the money offered him for The Seasons, he didn’t want them to be played by amateurs.

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