“Greatest” wins over hearts and minds

December 27 2011

The label “greatest orchestra in the world” always needs living up to end, on the evidence of last night, the St Petersburg Philharmonic are certainly the last surviving 19th century orchestra in the world — and that’s something to be proud of.

Their playing has heart, and is a thrill to hear, even if not militarily perfect.

Yuri Temirkanov, their conductor, is also probably one of the last aristocrats of the musical world. He rules, a gentleman: the rest are players. His Sibelius second symphony was magisterial and monumental.

But the exiting thing about last night was to hear the young piano virtuoso, Denis Matsuev.

If you though there was something special in simply playing all the notes in Rachmaninov’s third concerto, then you should hear this man. He has a transcendental technique, allied with true sensitivity, interpretative genius and the poets touch.

I’d gladly forgive him the occasional minor licence with the expression marks for the sake of his recreation of this piece as music: and romantic music at its richest.

Beale Review, "Manchester Evening News"

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