"National Symphony Orchestra highlights Russian composers in its concert"

January 2 2012

Anne Midgette,The Washington Post

February, 19, 2010

The opening of the Rachmaninoff was no less exact: Matsuev touched each chord with thoughtful precision, enhancing the piece’s effect of approaching from a great distance and bearing down upon listeners. He is quite a player, for whom technique is no object, but who also understands Rachmaninoff is most effective when played without goopiness. Matsuev didn’t shy away from laying on plenty of pedal; and he lingered over the notes, coming in on the back end of the beat. But he also demonstrated a basic sobriety: Rather than pathos, he played with emphasis; rather than banging, he kept sight of the core of the music, so the loud, showy passages were organically, sonically related to the quiet ones, with the same warm core of sound. That slightly drier approach allowed the music to show colors and dimensions that are frequently obscured.

To follow up that fundamentally tasteful performance, he offered a dessert of an encore that was pure, delightful fluff — his own arrangement of “Largo al factotum” from “The Barber of Seville,” showing breathtaking virtuosity, a keen awareness of the original vocal line and slapstick humor worthy of Bugs Bunny.

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