New York Times Review of the Concert in Carnegie Hall

January 30 2015

On Wednesday, after Mr. Gergiev began with Rodion Shchedrin’s short, riotously playful Concerto for Orchestra No. 1 (“Naughty Limericks”), the Russian virtuoso Denis Matsuev, 39, was the soloist in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G. Mr. Matsuev boasts a prodigious technique and interpretive flair. He is built like a weight lifter and plays with muscularity and power. His sound can be steely and harsh, especially his crash-bang dispatching of fortissimo chords.

Still, on this night he also revealed a lyrical, reflective side. He certainly has masterly command of this formidably difficult work. One reason that Tchaikovsky’s Second Concerto is overlooked in comparison with his popular First Concerto may be that it is, if anything, even more difficult to play. During its rousing first movement, stirring themes that unfold over long stretches are interrupted by fiery bursts of virtuosic piano writing. Repetitive chords, double-barrel octaves, keyboard-sweeping runs — nothing daunted Mr. Matsuev.

The novel slow movement is like a trio for solo violin, solo cello and, eventually, the piano, that morphs subtly into a concerto movement. Tchaikovsky packs a lot into the short, restless, almost giddy finale, which Mr. Matsuev played with uncanny ease. After a prolonged ovation, he offered two encores: Rachmaninoff’s Étude-Tableaus in A minor and Scriabin’s Étude in D sharp minor.


New York Times

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