Denis Matsuev

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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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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


"Choregies D'Orange 2011"

Tribune de Genève

July, 12, 2011

Enthousiasmant concert symphonique de l’Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse sous la direction magistrale de Tugan Sokhiev avec en soliste l’éblouissant pianiste Denis Matsuev.

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"[Paris] D’un Tchaïkovski brillant aux rêveries d’Harold"

Charlotte Loriot,

January, 15, 2011

Paris. Salle Pleyel. 12-I-11. Piotr Ilyitch Tchaïkovski (1840-1893) : Concerto pour piano n° 2 en sol majeur, op. 44. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) : Harold en Italie, symphonie en quatre parties avec alto, op. 16. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Daphnis et Chloé, suite n° 2. Denis Matsuev, piano, Antoine Tamestit, alto. Orchestre de Paris, direction : Paavo Järvi.

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"Grand Recital in Carnegie"

Anthony Tommasini, "The New York Times"

February, 25, 2010

Most young classical musicians feel pressure to stand out. If handled right, though, this pressure can be a productive force in an emerging artist's life.

It is not enough to play an instrument — or sing or conduct — brilliantly. You have to search within yourself and define your artistic identity. Your performances should convey what you believe in, what excites you.

Then, on Sunday evening, the Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, 34, played an all-Russian program at Carnegie Hall, capped by Mussorgsky's “Pictures at an Exhibition,” in a concert presented by Maestro Artist Management. Mr. Matsuev, who came to attention after winning the 1998 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, is an athletically virtuosic pianist. He has made his name with Russian Romantic works. From a certain perspective, this is an unadventurous choice. Still, here is an artist embracing his heritage, surely one way to be true to yourself.

Though Mr. Matsuev has played his share of diverse repertory, he has focused on Romantic and early-20th-century Russian works. By claiming this particular mantle Mr. Matsuev raises the stakes. The implication is that he brings special insight to that heritage. Over the years I have heard of lots of flashy, expressively indulgent performances of Russian repertory in the name of preserving the Russian Romantic style. Some of Mr. Matsuev's playing came across that way here.

Not at first. To begin, he played Tchaikovsky's suite of novelty pieces, “The Seasons,” one work for each month of the year. These miniatures are generally considered charming, if slight. Not so fast, Mr. Matsuev said through his engaging performance. Played complete, the suite lasts 40 minutes, and there are challenging and inventive elements in each piece.

Built like a weightlifter, curly-haired and boyish, Mr. Matsuev exudes charisma. His piano sound has depth and body, even in soft passages. He brought lyrical grace and rich detail to “The Seasons.” He then gave free-wheeling, big-toned and technically polished accounts of Rachmaninoff works: two Etudes-tableaux; a prelude; and a toccatalike Fugue in D minor, a student work.

The house was packed, and people everywhere were speaking Russian. The ovations were enormous, especially for Mr. Matsuev's virtuoso-circus-act encores, including an arrangement of Grieg's “In the Hall of the Mountain King” played with sledgehammer power. Pity the poor Steinway.

Yet you have to say that Mr. Matsuev has a clear artistic identity. And, as his Tchaikovsky showed, he is capable of refined music making.