Bachtrack review on Denis Matsuev and Yuri Temirkanov concert

March 31 2016

Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 3 in D minor is indeed the non plus ultra of the Romantic repertoire, famously difficult and never failing to impress. It begins unassumingly, however, with a theme in the piano likely of Russian monastic origin, to which Temirkanov’s batonless conducting provided a supple, keenly judged accompaniment. The piano writing gets very difficult very quickly, but under Matsuev’s big-boned playing, even the most severe challenges were brushed off with ease and aplomb. Projection was never an issue for him either, as he effortlessly overpowered the orchestra – there was really no contest.

The high point of the first movement is the massive cadenza, which structurally speaking serves as the recapitulation. Matsuev elected for the larger of the two the composer provided; Matsuev's leonine attack unleashing a virtuosity almost beyond comprehension. Rarely will one hear such a torrent of sound emanating from a Steinway. Some levity was to be found in the capricious waltz, brought to life through Matsuev’s immaculate prestidigitation.

The finale dramatically followed attacca, its driving rhythms propelled forward through Matsuev’s boundless strength, never diminishing in intensity. The dazzling double octaves that conclude this magnificent concerto were clearly designed for maximum audience effect, as only a virtuoso pianist as Rachmaninov himself could calculate. Matsuev then treated the enthusiastic crowd to a sprightly reading of a Sibelius Etude by way of an encore. 


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