February 21, 2010

Denis Matsuev, Piano

February 21, 2010
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall, New York

“Perhaps he is the new Horowitz.”
– London Times

“Denis Matsuev possesses phenomenal talents. His playing gives one a basis for believing that a new star has appeared in the firmament of pianists.”
– Westdeutsche Zeitung

“The latest in the pianistic line of succession, following Evgeny Kissin and Arcadi Volodos… the 25-year-old Siberian made a stunning South Florida debut Friday night as guest soloist with the Bolshoi Symphony Orchestra… Matsuev displayed immense charisma and jaw-dropping technique in Rachmaninoff’s mighty Piano Concerto No. 3. He attacked the virtuosic passages and scales with iron-fingered dexterity, rendering the cascades of notes in the most demanding sections with remarkable clarity and strength… the young pianist’s performance was undeniably exhilarating, and it brought the audience roaring to its feet.”
– Florida Sun-Sentinel

Program Details
Denis Matsuev, Piano

RACHMANINOFF  Etudes-tableaux Nos. 2 and 6, Op. 39
RACHMANINOFF  Prelude in G-sharp Minor, Op. 32, No. 12
MUSSORGSKY     Pictures at an Exhibition

Denis Matsuev has become a fast-rising star on the international concert stage since his triumphant victory at the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1998, and is quickly establishing himself as one of the most sought after pianists of his generation.
Mr. Matsuev has appeared in hundreds of recitals at prestigious concert halls throughout the world, including New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Salle Gaveau and Théâtre de Champs Elysée in Paris, Mozarteum in Salzburg, Müsikhalle in Hamburg, Musikverein in Vienna, Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Great Hall of the Conservatoire in Moscow, Great Hall of Philharmonie in St. Petersburg, La Scala in Milan and the new Mariinsky Theatre Concert Hall in St. Petersburg.
Mr. Matsuev has given brilliant performances around the world with orchestras such as Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester Bayerischen Rundfunks, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Filharmonica della Scala, Leipzig Gewanhaus, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Budapest Festival Orchestra and others.
He is also continually engaged with the great Russian orchestras of his native motherland such as Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, and Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra among others.
Denis Matsuev regularly collaborates with the most prominent conductors on the stage today including Lorin Maazel, Yuri Temirkanov, Mikhail Pletnev, Valery Gergiev, Maris Jansons Vladimir Fedoseyev, Vladimir Spivakov, Yuri Simonov.
In the 2007-2008 season, Mr. Matsuev opened the season of Houston Symphony Orchestra, debuted with Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin, performed eleven concerts in the United States with State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia, and engaged in a successful tour of Spain and Italy with the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra under Yuri Temirkanov. In Amsterdam, critics have acclaimed his brilliant performance with Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse under the direction of Tugan Sokhiev. Mr. Matsuev also appeared in recital at prestigious concert halls throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall in New York City, Queen Elizabeth in London, Liege Concert Hall, Concert Hall of Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Theatre des Champs Elyse’s in Paris and his debut at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. At the end of the season, Denis Matsuev and Valery Gergiev gave a remarkable tour in Slovenia and Germany with concerts at well-known European festivals ” Schleswig-Holstein ” and “Rheingau”.
Over the past three years, Denis Matsuev has been in collaboration with Serge Rachmaninoff Foundation and its President Alexander Rachmaninoff, the grandson of the composer. Mr. Matsuev was chosen by the Foundation to perform and record unknown pieces of Rachmaninoff on the composer’s own piano at the Rachmaninoff house “Villa Senar” in Luzern. This unique program has been in high demand across the world. After his triumphal appearance at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London “The Independent” wrote: “Matsuev spent the first half of his concert proving he had an artistic hot-line to his great predecessor… He has the rare gift of letting notes expand in a surrounding stillness” (by Michael Church, Dec. 6 2007) Mr. Matsuev made his Recital debut at the Ravinia Festival in July 2008 with this program.
Season 2008-2009 for Denis Matsuev is filled with performances in well-known concert halls across the world featuring an exciting array of unique programs. Mr. Matsuev will open the season with Filharmonica della Scalla under the direction of Maestro Myung-Whun Chung, tour with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Asia and Europe, and also tour North America with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia in March 2009. He has also been invited to perform with the symphonies of Cincinnati and New-Jersey under the direction of Paavo and Neemi Jarvi respectively, Valery Gergiev and Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra in the “Stars of the White Nights” Festival in Saint-Petersburg, and tour Russia with Maestro Lorin Maazel and Filarmonica Toscanini. This year, he will also debut with Leipzig’s Gewanhaus, West Deutsche Rundfunk and European Chamber Orchestra. One of the highlights of this season is a concert with the Saint Petersburg Philharmonic under the direction of Maris Jansons in celebration of the legendary Yuri Temirkanov. Mr. Matsuev will also perform in a series of concerts organized by the Serge Rachmaninoff Foundation called “Rachmaninoff Gala” at some of the most prestigious concert halls in Geneva, Bruxelles and Pittsburgh.
In 2004 BMG Classics RCA (Red Seal) released Matsuev’s debut CD “A Tribute to Horowitz”, followed in January 2006 by a disc of Tchaikovsky “Seasons” and Stravinsky “Petrouchka” and in December 2006 by Tchaikovsky piano concerto ¹1 and Shostakovich piano concerto ¹1 with legendary St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Yuri Temirkanov. In December of 2007, SONY BMG released a disc “Unknown Rachmaninoff” which has received strong positive reviews praising Denis’ execution and creativity. Denis Matsuev’s recital at Carnegie Hall in November 2007 was recorded by Philipp Nedel and will be released in September 2008 in a new album “Denis Matsuev – Live at Carnegie Hall.” New York Times praised his performance with “his poetic instincts held fast in tender moments, with trills as thrillingly precise as one might ever hope to hear.”
Mr. Matsuev is Artistic Director of two famous classical music festivals in Russia: “Stars on Baikal” in Irkutsk and “Crescendo” in Moscow. These remarkable festivals feature gifted Russian soloists from all over the world with the best Russian orchestras and present a new generation of students from Russia’s music schools. “Crescendo” festival had an incredible resonance in Russia and is under the patronage of the President of the Russian Federation.

Event Reviews

Friday, February 26, 2010
Two Young Pianists, Forging Connections

Most young classical musicians feel pressure to stand out. If handled right, though, this pressure can be a productive force in an emerging artist’s life.

It is not enough to play an instrument — or sing or conduct — brilliantly. You have to search within yourself and define your artistic identity. Your performances should convey what you believe in, what excites you.

Last weekend two thriving young pianists with strong, though wildly contrasting, artistic profiles gave recitals in New York. Even the circumstances of these concerts could not have been more different.

The inquisitive, elegant Israeli pianist David Greilsammer, 32, presented a recital at the Walter Reade Theater, part of Lincoln Center’s Sunday Morning Coffee Concerts series, in which programs of roughly 60 minutes are followed by a coffee-and-muffin reception with the artists in the lobby. Mr. Greilsammer, also the music director of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, is fascinated by musical connections. His program, “Gates,” offered works by composers from Rameau and Monteverdi to Ligeti and John Adams, with stops through Scarlatti, Janacek and more.

Then, on Sunday evening, the Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, 34, played an all-Russian program at Carnegie Hall, capped by Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” in a concert presented by Maestro Artist Management. Mr. Matsuev, who came to attention after winning the 1998 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, is an athletically virtuosic pianist. He has made his name with Russian Romantic works. From a certain perspective, this is an unadventurous choice. Still, here is an artist embracing his heritage, surely one way to be true to yourself.

For Mr. Greilsammer, the potential risk from programs that leap around is that the experiment can seem gimmicky. In his recital here, the choices of pieces and the musical connections among them were striking and provocative. Most important, the playing was exquisite.

In titling the program “Gates,” Mr. Greilsammer evoked the notion of walking from one gallery to another at an art exhibition and coming upon stunningly different artistic images. This recital was his attempt at a musical equivalent of that visual experience.

Though not explicitly stated, his larger goal, it seemed, was to let his audience hear the resonances he detects in works written over a span of 400 years. He began with Rameau’s “Gavotte et six doubles,” or Six Variations, a piece for harpsichord from 1729. It was riveting, and also touching, to see the wiry, bookish Mr. Greilsammer playing Rameau’s delicate gavotte and three of the variations with such tenderness and intimacy. With this first piece, he was asking his Sunday morning listeners to settle in and follow him on his journey.

It was a surprisingly easy leap when he shifted to Ligeti’s wondrously strange “Musica ricercata” No. 7, which nods to the Baroque but is actually a modernist experiment: a softly grumbling left-hand ostinato is repeated over and over as a lacy, elusive melodic line spins out.

The next musical leaps were wilder and even more intriguing. Ligeti gave way to an unfinished neo-Baroque Suite in C by Mozart, then to Satie’s dreamy Gnossienne No. 3, and then, of all things, to an aria from Monteverdi’s opera “Orfeo,” deftly arranged for piano by Mr. Greilsammer.

A compelling performance of a movement from Janacek’s fitful Sonata (Oct. 1, 1905) “From the Street” led immediately, and somehow fittingly, to a pensive Scarlatti sonata, and then to the central work of the program: John Adams’s “China Gates,” music rich with tinkling piano sounds, Minimalist riffs and modal harmonies.

From the Adams, Mr. Greilsammer went in reverse order through the same composers he had played, performing, for example, another Scarlatti sonata, another movement of the Janacek. He ended, as he had begun, with the Rameau gavotte and the three remaining variations.

Afterward, the audience gathered in the lobby to have coffee and meet the artist, who signed copies of his Naïve label recordings. His latest offers him as pianist and conductor in sensitive, articulate accounts of Mozart’s Piano Concertos 22 and 24, with the Suedama Ensemble.

Though Mr. Matsuev has played his share of diverse repertory, he has focused on Romantic and early-20th-century Russian works. By claiming this particular mantle Mr. Matsuev raises the stakes. The implication is that he brings special insight to that heritage. Over the years I have heard of lots of flashy, expressively indulgent performances of Russian repertory in the name of preserving the Russian Romantic style. Some of Mr. Matsuev’s playing came across that way here.

Not at first. To begin, he played Tchaikovsky’s suite of novelty pieces, “The Seasons,” one work for each month of the year. These miniatures are generally considered charming, if slight. Not so fast, Mr. Matsuev said through his engaging performance. Played complete, the suite lasts 40 minutes, and there are challenging and inventive elements in each piece.

Built like a weightlifter, curly-haired and boyish, Mr. Matsuev exudes charisma. His piano sound has depth and body, even in soft passages. He brought lyrical grace and rich detail to “The Seasons.” He then gave free-wheeling, big-toned and technically polished accounts of Rachmaninoff works: two Études-tableaux; a prelude; and a toccatalike Fugue in D minor, a student work.

But he lost me with “Pictures at an Exhibition.” As if to rescue this staple from familiarity, Mr. Matsuev played it with steely, often bombastic aggressiveness. Even in wistful, quieter pieces like “The Old Castle,” his playing was distended with pronounced use of Romantic rubato. “The Hut on Fowl’s Legs,” which evokes the dwelling of the witch Baba Yaga, was a din of cascading octaves and brutal chords, played at hyper-drive.

The house was packed, and people everywhere were speaking Russian. The ovations were enormous, especially for Mr. Matsuev’s virtuoso-circus-act encores, including an arrangement of Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” played with sledgehammer power. Pity the poor Steinway.

Yet you have to say that Mr. Matsuev has a clear artistic identity. And, as his Tchaikovsky showed, he is capable of refined music making.

Mr. Greilsammer is a standout musician who has it in him to challenge, inform and delight audiences. During the reception I overheard one person saying that he thought Mr. Greilsammer’s experiment did not go far enough, that there was too much “sameness” in the pieces, especially the first few. When a listener asserts that Rameau, Ligeti, Mozart and Satie sound similar, I think Mr. Greilsammer can claim success at showing the connections among seemingly disparate music.

Monday, February 22, 2010
Stage Door: Hard Times, Measure For Measure, Denis Matsuev
Review by Fern Siegel

Keeping within a classical vein, Rachmaninoff devotees enjoyed a treat Sunday, Feb. 21, when Denis Matsuev made a triumphant return to Carnegie Hall performing various Rachmaninoff works, including “Fuga in D Minor,” transcribed for piano by Rachmaninoff himself in 1891. In addition, he played Tchaikovsky’s “Seasons” and Mussorgky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” with great finesse. Matsuev has a delicate touch, yet intense delivery; he infuses already dramatic music with a new and wonderful vitality.

Since his victory at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Matsuev is regarded as a star on the international concert stage. Recent and upcoming performances include appearances with the New York Philharmonic, the Berliner Philharmoniker and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Venue: Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most famous and prestigious venues in the United States for classical and popular music, renowned for its beauty, history, and acoustics. Carnegie Hall, located at 57th Street and 7th Avenue, is actually three halls in one: the main venue is the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, which seats 2,804, the underground Zankel Hall seats 599, and Weill Recital Hall seats 268.

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