Denis Matsuev

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Review of the disc "Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No 3; Symphony No 5"

Tie yourself and your valuables down. Denis Matsuev and Valery Gergiev take a dangerous, open-top sports car approach to Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto. The sharpness of the attack, the delight in clashing sonorities, and the sheer raciness of the approach make the music so exciting it’s almost exhausting to listen to. Matsuev’s command is astonishing, in a performance that unflinchingly aligns the piece to the daunting world of the composer’s Second Concerto.

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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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DENIS MATSUEV/MARIINSKY ORCHESTRA. Shostakovich Piano Concertos (Mariinsky)

Here is 20th-century Russian music at its most charismatic. The two piano concertos of Shostakovich contrast the expansive grin of a 27-year-old composer in the flush of his first fame with the jaded smile of a 51-year-old. Young Russian pianist Denis Matsuev is masterful at overcoming the works’ many technical demands. He lends the piano forward-moving power while giving his overall interpretation smoothly rounded corners. Conductor Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra are magnificent in achieving the same kind of balance, giving the music weight without ever making it ponderous. The slow movements in both concertos are magical as they waft gently by.

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