“Virtuosic Hercules at the Steinway”. Pianist Denis Matsuev conquers D?sseldorf

January 2 2012

D?sseldorf. How beautiful, that the organizers from the Klavier-Festival Ruhr continuously more often reserve for the highlights of their concert series the venues of D?sseldorf. With the 1975 in Irkutsk born pianist Denis Matsuev in any case a real phenomenon leaped onto the podium of the Robert-Schumann Hall. Liszt’s “Mephisto”-Walz, Horowitz’ “Carmen”-Variations, Stravinsky’s “Petruchka”, no “warhorse” is safe from this man.

His power: limitless. His octave and scale technique: without comparison. His touch: highly differentiated. Nobody plays quicker, bolder, more transparent. Betimes one has the impression; a five-armed juggler is juggling five barbells of 50 kilo each, as though they were paper balls. Similarly the young Horowitz must have sounded. Jubilation in the audience.

Naturally the suspicion arises, that with Matsuev the virtuosic effect becomes a servant of its own. However the pianist also artistically touches the heart of the piece, which he plays. His Mephisto Waltz has the crucial demonic force.

Even during the wildest dancing turmoil he is able to superimpose. From an inner impulse, from a Russian soul. The Carmen-Variations dispersed Horowitz’ menacing maddening humor, because Matsuev specifically steers towards the slanted highlights. In the Stravinsky a rhythmic sharpness of steel rules. A formal logic and certain mechanic stiffness were dominant. Good so.

Occasionally this Hercules of the piano is nevertheless to brute. Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody by times loses its drive through the arbitrary compositional changes towards full resonance. The free evolvement of music however requires calmness and the natural flow of breath.

Such is no basic problem with Matsuev, since he on the other hand measures Tchaikovsky’s “Four Seasons” with such concentration and discipline, as if it were a late Brahms. Meaty in sound, earnest and bitter in expression. Well conceived he chooses a brisk tempo for the June-Barcarole and the Christmas-Waltz and avoids any perfume. Another solution does not exist for this music.

So the hope stays, to hear this interesting artist soon again. Then however with Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Until then it applies: Siberia: 12 points.

"West Deutsche Zeitung"

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