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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ICMA nomination

Shostakovich Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 and Shchedrin Piano Concerto No 5 has been nominated for an International Classical Music Award (ICMA) in the Concerto category. The Award Ceremony and Gala concert will take place in Milan, 18 March 2013.

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Review of the Concert of Denis Matsuev in Torino

A centro serata il Secondo Concerto per pianoforte e orchestra di Liszt in un unico ‘blocco’ plurifrazionato, assai più moderno strutturalmente rispetto al Primo, pagina tuttora di sicura presa sul pubblico, nonostante certi passaggi gonfi di retorica e impregnati di vacuo trionfalismo, ritmi di marcia e via elencando. 

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Pianiste et ambassadeur

Les Ambassadeurs de bonne volonté de l’UNESCO sont des personnalités qui mettent leur renommée au service des idéaux de l’organisation. Ils acceptent d’utiliser leur talent et leur charisme pour sensibiliser l’opinion mondiale à la promotion de l’éducation, de la culture et de la science. Les activités de l’organisation deviennent-elles ainsi plus visibles et efficaces. La dernière personne investie de ce rôle est le célèbre pianiste russe Denis Matsuev. 

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Review on Denis Matsuev's Concert in London from The Guardian and The Artdesk

The Guardian

They also provided formidable support to the evening's soloist, Denis Matsuev, who delivered an exceptional account of Liszt's Piano Concerto No 2 in terms of power and brilliance. Technically commanding, he maintained beauty of tone whatever the force employed or the speed with which virtuoso passages were attacked. With Gergiev fully endorsing Matsuev's approach, this was a performance that married a barnstorming manner with real musical distinction.

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Denis Matsuev e il Mephisto Waltz di Liszt a Santa Cecilia, Roma

Ospite abituale dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, lo straordinario pianista russo Denis Matsuev torna a travolgere il romano con il suo ultimo concerto, nuovo appuntamento della stagione di musica da camera.

Ammiratissimo, prodigioso interprete di Rachmaninoff, Matsuev ha proposto la sua duplice vena artistica con un programma variegato, strizzando l’occhio da una parte al repertorio romantico e dall’altra al virtuosismo più sfrenato. Cuore del concerto è stato il celebre Mephisto Waltz di Liszt: 13 minuti di scoppiettante virtuosismo e di inquietante furore in cui il pianista ha concretizzato davanti agli occhi degli spettatori le figure di Mefistofele e Faust.

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Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2/Denis Matsuev, piano/Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev

I was anticipating a huge, monstrously bombastic performance of the First Concerto under the fingers of the powerful and technically phenomenal Matsuev, and he did not disappoint in that regard. 

Few pianists would seem to be more adept at the sometimes quite un-pianistic writing that the 34-year-old non-pianist Tchaikovsky would create, pouring his heart into the work only to have it shot down by the original dedicatee, the oft-times thuggish Nicolai Rubinstein, who called it “worthless and unplayable”. 

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Review: Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 and 2/Denis Matsuev, piano/Mariinsky Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev

This Mariinsky CD includes Concertos 1 and 2. The Concerto No. 1, not too popular at the first performance, has become the benchmark for today’s virtuoso display. I recently heard it live with Bronfman and Dudamel in Los Angeles; it never loses its appeal. Matsuev manages much of Bronfman’s power, but under the critical ear of the microphone, his technique is flawless and Gergiev accompanies beautifully. Only one flat horn phrase in the 2nd Concerto suggests that the Mariinsky Orchestra is almost the completed project. As such, it fares better than some of the recent Shostakovich Symphonies — same conductor, recording company, and hall.

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Reviews on CD Prokofiev: Piano Concerto no. 3, Symphony no. 5 - Matsuev, Gergiev

Classics Today: Matsuev and Gergiev Offer Impressive Prokofiev

I have no criticisms whatsoever regarding the Third Piano Concerto. Denis Matsuev is dazzling wherever digital dexterity is required, which is everywhere, and it’s incredibly refreshing to hear a performance of the work at tempos under nine minutes for two out of the three movements–closer to the composer’s own version. Gergiev and Matsuev beautifully capture the brittle wit of the first movement’s second subject, with its dry castanets, and in the second movement the allegro giusto fifth variation is among the best you’ll hear. The finale also has both an unusual degree of excitement plus a welcome unity thanks to Matsuev’s refusal to let the music languish in the central lyrical interlude. It’s a tremendous performance, gripping from first note to last.

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Blog #23


This blog is about how we recorded the disc that is to be released in February 2014. This is our third work with Maestro Gergiev and the Mariinsky label. The two previous CDs with records enjoyed great success. The first record included Rachmaninoff's the Third Concerto and Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini. The second - two Shostakovich’s concertos and the Fifth concert of Shchedrin. And here we are with V. Gergiev decided to record these two concerts by P. I. Tchaikovsky. Along with the famous First Concerto you will enjoy less known, but not less beloved, the Second Concerto. Maestro Gergiev shares my opinion that this outstanding concert, undeservedly forgotten and unfortunately rarely performed, must become famous. Therefore we have decided to present these two concerts to the public in such a bundle. Immerse yourself in these moments the recording, that was made a year ago in the concert hall of the Mariinsky.

Director and camera - A. Matison, cameraman - V. Ivanov, sound - I.Muraviev, P. Nedel, design - A.Proshin

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