Denis Matsuev

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La Orquesta del Royal Concertgebouw en el Teatro Colón : Matices sinfónicos

La Rapsodia sobre un tema de Paganini (1934) de Sergei Rachmaninov fue la obra común a los dos programas presentados este año, que permitió por un lado conocer al brillante pianista ruso Denis Matsuev, pero también volver a percibir que la concentración de cada atril, la perfecta afinación y el justo equilibrio sonoro siguen siendo una marca distintiva de la orquesta holandesa. 


Denis Matsuev in New York

Denis Matsuev, an extraordinary pianist, offers, as part of the 140th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Rachmaninoff an album that confronts the Concerto No. 2 with the Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. A confrontation at first somewhat unexpected between the romanticism of the Russian and the American jazz rhythm. Yet these two composers are closely related to New York City where this album was recorded in collaboration with the orchestra of this city, under the baton of Music Director Alan Gilbert.


Rachmaninov à Moscou avec Denis Matsuev

A l’occasion des 140 ans de la naissance de Rachmaninov, la philharmonie de Moscou, l’orchestre symphonique d’Etat de Moscou et la salle Tchaïkovski offraient au public, deux soirées de prestige : Denis Matsuev, la grande star russe du piano, était dirigé par Leonard Slatkin dans des programmes évidement consacrés au grand compositeur. C’était également l’occasion pour Matsuev de présenter son dernier disque, naturellement consacré à Rachmaninov et à son Concerto n°2.


Adulé du public moscovite qui lui réserve un accueil des plus enthousiastes avant de le couvrir de fleurs, Denis Matsuev osait affronter, sur un même concert, les deux concertos de Rachmaninov les plus célèbres : les Concertos n°2 et n°3, sorte de soirée orgiaque à laquelle peu de pianistes oseraient se confronter. Bien évidement Mastuev combine la technique et la puissance digitale pour transcender ces deux partitions. Pourtant, le pianiste peine un peu à entrer dans le Concerto n°2. En dépit d’une aisance et d’une dynamique toujours phénoménales, Matsuev semble un peu sur la réserve, quant à Leonard Slatkin, il impose un accompagnement attentif et assez souple, en dépit d’une salle à l’acoustique très généreuse, qui fait étinceler la masse orchestrale. Changement d’ambiance avec un Concerto n°3 porté par une électricité  indubitable.  Soliste et chef font bloc pour imposer une lecture échevelée du concerto, transcendé par des musiciens touchés par la magie des très grands soirs. La force dramatique traverse cette interprétation qui prend place dans la droite ligne des lectures des grandes figures légendaires du piano.



Review: Rachmaninov and Nielsen with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Once Langeland had finished playing, the concert proper began. On the programme was Rachmaninoff’s third piano concerto and Nielsen’s fourth symphony. The soloist for the Rachmaninov concerto was the Russian pianist Denis Matsuev. This performance also marked his debut with the orchestra. His account of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 3 was truly ravishing. His playing was crystal clear, even during Rachmaninov’s most virtuosic writing, his phrasing natural, and he never slid into the kind of sentimental, overly romantic interpretation that can easily almost ruin a piece like this concerto. Matsuev also played the longer, more difficult, original first-movement cadenza. His use of pedal, however, was a tad too liberal and often managed to blur out some of the virtuosic passages. 

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Review Pittsbough Post Gazette: PSO's perfection

At Heinz Hall recently, we saw the PSO's "A Night on Bald Mountain," Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7. Stunning. Explosive. Brilliant. Never heard the PSO play better or as one instrument. It was as if I was listening to "A Night On Bald Mountain" for the first time.

Russian pianist Denis Matsuev was grandly lyrical with unbelievable chops in the Rach 2 Piano Concerto. And when Mr. Matsuev encored with an Oscar Peterson-like brilliance on the Juan Tizol jazz standard, "Caravan," the packed house roared and the sitting orchestra members, stunned, responded in kind.


OSM review: Virtuoso duet from Denis Matsuev, Mikhail Pletnev

MONTREAL - My Moscow relatives were jealous when I told them I would hear Denis Matsuev play Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto at the Maison symphonique Thursday, and these are not easy people to impress. I had one cousin train an elephant to walk a tightrope between two balconies at a party — a three-ton beast, bejazzled in every way, who loped across with a triumphant teenager on top — and nobody noticed.

Turns out they were right to be jealous, but first there was the matter of The Seasons, the ballet by Glazunov — the same Glazunov who allegedly ruined the première of Rachmaninoff’s first symphony by conducting it drunk. Not a Russian tradition, in this case — it’s just what I think of whenever these two share a concert program.

Glazunov was a wunderkind, like Rachmaninoff, but from St. Petersburg instead of Moscow. He even managed to ride out the revolution, which comes to mind because there is something shrewd about his music, even with Mikhail Pletnev leading the OSM. It was a vivid performance and its more brilliant parts, like the Autumn Bacchanal, made me glad there weren’t dancers trying to keep up with Pletnev. He conducts like a man launching a yacht in a tuxedo, careful-don’t-get-mud-on-it movements bursting into Christ-I’ll-do-it-myself. But most of the suite just ran prettily past. No matter how finely the material is worked, it’s still not gold.

Expectations were high when Matsuev arrived. At 38, he looks like a big, rosy-cheeked Siberian boy, but he moves like a gallant; he could have entered in a litter. Pletnev and he passed for two men ignoring each other while performing a virtuoso duet; the opening theme’s octaves glided into the orchestral line as if they were played by one hand, and the first cadenza (the piano solo) was volcanic, a freakish release that cast Matsuev’s elegant composure into self-conscious relief. The finale was sublime, but the best was their wondrous Intermezzo, as balanced as a watch spring and as full of discoveries as the ocean in the dead of night.

This much beauty was almost a knockout after Glazunov’s pretty slapping, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the massive audience from giving the champion six trips to the door before he realized an encore was necessary. So he played two.

Lev Bratishenko

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Symphony superb in performances of classics

Pittsburgh Symphony music director Manfred Honeck returned Friday night to a packed house at Heinz Hall, where he conducted a blockbuster program of great and popular music. 

Honeck, who has been busy making his debuts with the New York and Berlin Philharmonics in 2013, began with an interpretation of Modest Mussorgsky's “Night on Bald Mountain” that would test any orchestra.


The performance played to extremes of all kinds, including a tempo for the main section of the piece that was so fast it was reminiscent of Soviet conductor Yevgeny Mravsinky in other repertoire. 

Although the tempo was anything but out of place for frenzied debauchery, only a great orchestra could make it work. 

No doubt Honeck pushed the limit, but the orchestra rose to the occasion in many ways — and not with only stunning articulation, dynamic contrasts and impressively concentrated brass sonorities. 

The end of the piece, ushered in by morning's bell, was quite slow and featured beautiful wind solos by Michael Rusinek and Lorna McGhee. Her flute tone was instantly captivating in a special way and her phrasing included nice individuality. 

Russian pianist Denis Matsuev followed with an astonishing performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2. This is music written for a pianist with big sound and stunning virtuosity, and has been played by countless great pianists. Even so, Matsuev's power and velocity were jaw dropping. 

Matsuev enjoys being the soloist, and if he sometimes overplayed and covered melodies he's actually accompanying, it must be admitted at other time he brought out inner ornamentation against the orchestra that is usually overlooked and provided freshness. 

After intermission Honeck brought back Ludwig van Beeethoven's Symphony No. 7, a piece for which he has a particularly superb interpretation. 

Honeck conducted this piece at his New York Philharmonic debut in early January. The interpretation he led Friday night was in most respects very similar to the one he led here in 2009. The energy and rhythmic focus carries all before it. His tempo relationships are excellent.


Yet there were new elements, most significantly more sustained and warmer string playing at the start of the second movement — which only served to deepen the expression without in any way losing the dignity of the feeling. 

By Mark Kanny

Published: Saturday, February 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Updated 10 hours ago

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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


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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Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra Open the Symphonic Masters Series at Lincoln Center

The second Brahms program by Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra was at once more challenging and more satisfying. The choice of repertoire was less popularly appealing, more demanding, and much darker in palette. The choice of soloist — Russian pianist Denis Matsuev — in the titanic first piano concerto was much more felicitous, insofar as there was a greater sense of coherence and unity of interpretation between solo and orchestra than had been the case with the violin concerto.