"Duo dazzles in Prokoviev work"

January 2 2012
Want to have a good time? Hurry down to Music Hall tonight and buy a ticket for the Cincinnati Symphony on the left-hand side.

Get as close as you can so you can see and hear pianist Denis Matsuev in Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3. (You can see the pianist’s hands on the left side of the hall and watch the interaction between Matsuev and CSO assistant conductor Eric Dudley, who led Friday’s matinee.)

The curly haired titan from Irkutsk (Siberia), winner of the 1998 Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, demonstrated power and panache in the daunting work, dispatching fists full of notes with elan — many literally hand over fist, as he nailed furious passages up and down the keyboard.

Dudley, 27, kept a watchful eye from above and both men worked with precision and a wide range of expression, contrasting lively kinetics with more languorous moments. Matuev, 31, could mount savage attacks on the keys, then wax warm and romantic, or piquant and barbed, as the moment required.

He sent up a hail of hammerstrokes and glissandi in the closing bars of the finale, bringing his listeners — many clutching yellow roses (a tribute to longtime CSO subscribers) — to their feet.

Friday was Dudley’s “official” CSO subscription debut. He stepped in on a day’s notice last season for guest conductor William Eddins. That concert was impressive (including a superlative collaboration with guest artist Jon Kimura Parker in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1). This time Dudley owned the moment and he made the most of it.

A pianist and composer himself, he led with keen sensitivity to nuance and instrumental voicing throughout the concert. Textures were firmly grounded in the bass, giving them a rich, full sound, and he shaped lines and phrases expressively, with a view towards the compositional whole.

March 3, 2007

Mary Ellyn Hutton, "The Cincinnati Post"

Tags: press review

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