Recent experiences of Denis Matsuev have not been that positive, so it was a pleasure that his International Piano Series recital went a long way to confounding expectations. True, Matsuev’s stage manner isn’t exactly ingratiating and his pragmatic engagement with the piano (here a beautifully voiced Steinway) gives very little away. Also, both halves of his programme were organised to keep the fans waiting for Denis the arsonist-as-virtuoso, which, to judge from the amount of coughing and phone-checking, was the audience’s prime interest.
A decade ago now, I reviewed Denis Matsuev’s BMG Melodiya disc Tribute to Horowitz. Heard live in a solo recital he is just as impressive technically; yet the programming here revealed an intent to show us a deeper, more thoughtful side.
It’s a great pleasure to invite you to my concert in London on 20 January at 19:30 at the Royal Festival Hall. London is one of my favourite cities, I love London atmosphere, the audience, orchestras, with whom I was fortunate enough to play. Luckily, I have formed great relationship with all of them, but still I would like to tell several words about London Symphony Orchestra, with which Maestro Gergiev and I have already planned a lot of interesting projects.
However, this time I come to London with a recital, which will be held at the Royal Festival Hall - a glorified hall, within one of the most famous series - International Piano Series. I have already performed here many times, but for me, this place is still primarily associated with the legendary concert in 1982 by the great Vladimir Horowitz. Vladimir Samoylovich ended his performance with Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata, and your humble servant this time will finish the concert with the same musical composition. I am very excited about this evening and looking forward to it!
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.