Shostakovich: Piano Concertos 1-2 - Matsuev, Gergiev

Shostakovich: Piano Concertos 1-2 - Matsuev, Gergiev

Mariinsky  MAR0509

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Shostakovich: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, Shchedrin: Piano Concerto No. 5

Denis Matsuev (piano)
Mariinsky Orchestra
Valery Gergiev (conductor)

Denis Matsuev returns to the Mariinsky label with his recording of both Shostakovich piano concertos, showcased here alongside Shchedrin's Piano Concerto No 5.

Since winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998 Matsuev has established a reputation as one of Russia’s greatest and most dynamic pianists. Over recent years he has begun to perform regularly on the international scene and has recorded for BMG Russia. He has appeared with many of the world’s leading orchestras and gave his first Carnegie Hall recital in 2007.

Matsuev is renowned for his interpretations of music by Russian composers and has collaborated with the Serge Rachmaninoff Foundation. He was chosen by the Foundation to perform and record unknown pieces of Rachmaninov on the composer’s own piano at the Rachmaninov house on the Villa Senar estate, Lucerne.

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Reviews (1)

Review by Graham Williams - February 9, 2012

This generously filled SACD (73' 32”) contains not only the two familiar Piano Concertos of Dmitri Shostakovich but also the substantial Piano Concerto No. 5 of Rodion Shchedrin. All three works are performed by the gifted Russian virtuoso Denis Matsuev accompanied by the Mariinsky Orchestra and Valery Gergiev whose affinity with the music of both composers is clearly evident in the performances on this disc.

Denis Matsuev's account of the Piano Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings leaves one breathless in admiration for his formidable technique and the accuracy of his playing. Tempi are lively but never extreme. His partner is the orchestra's principal trumpet Timur Martynov who gives a fine account of the taxing trumpet part. My only reservation is that he is slightly too backwardly balanced in relation to the pianist. Throughout this disc Gergiev shows himself to be a most sensitive accompanist. His expressive moulding of the hushed strings in the 'Lento' is quite magical and his orchestra matches Matsuev's helter-skelter performance of the final 'Allegro brio'.

In the 2nd Piano Concerto that Shostakovich wrote for his son Maxim, Matsuev plays the opening movement at a more steady allegro than is often the case. This does allow for cleaner articulation of the main theme by both soloist and orchestra without undue loss of impetus, and the essentially light-hearted character of the music is retained . He avoids any indulgence and sentimentality in the concerto's ultra-romantic slow movement where his playing matches the forward-moving introduction by Gergiev and the orchestra. It is refreshing to hear it performed at the marked 'Andante' yet still retain its pathos; though some will yearn for the full romantic treatment given to it by Marc Andre Hamelin on his Hyperion recording. Matsuev's agile and crisply delivered account of the finale completes his thoughtful and enjoyable reading.

Music by Rodion Shchedrin (born 1932), Shostakovich's younger contemporary, has featured on an earlier release on this label namely his opera 'The Enchanted Wanderer' and his entertaining Concerto for Orchestra No. 1 'Naughty Limericks' Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer - Gergiev. Over the past 49 years Shchedrin has composed six piano concertos and the fifth, featured here, received its premier in 1999 given by its dedicatee Oli Mustonen.

It is scored for a standard symphony orchestra, but with a large percussion section that includes bass drum, chocolo, suspended cymbal, glass chimes, gong, guiro, tamburo and tam-tam

The composer supplied the following note for the première of the concerto:

"I have always been attracted to the piano concerto genre. I myself played the premières of three of my piano concertos, which is incidentally in keeping with an ancient tradition in Russian music (Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich). The three movements in the concerto obviously contrast with one another, but the thematic material of the first movement runs throughout the whole work, only changing in mood, light and aspect. I attempted in the finale to repeat the crescendo ‘movement’ of Ravel’s Bolero, but in the completely different tempo of a virtuosic, impetuous toccata. The soloist’s part is naturally ‘bright’ and ‘illuminated’ (the pianist has two solo cadenzas) but there is also equally virtuosic ‘work’ for the orchestra and the conductor.”
Somewhat surprisingly this is the second time Denis Matsuev has recorded this concerto. The first was with the Bavarian RSO and Maris Jansons for Sony in 2004, but the Mariinsky release is its first appearance on SACD. The 33-minute concerto is a complex and challenging work that places prodigious demands upon both soloist and orchestra – and, not least, the listener. Its foremost requirement of pianistic virtuosity presents no problems for Denis Matsuev or the players of the Mariinsky Orchestra. The opening two movements of the concerto are quite dark in mood and fairly restrained. However, the finale opens with a rapid and delicate 'moto perpetuo' for the soloist and gradually includes more percussive writing, punctuated with extraordinary orchestral outbursts. Following a huge cadenza, the final minutes build to a terrifying climax in which Shchedrin's extensive percussion section makes its mark. The work ends with a crashing dissonance.

The recordings were made a year apart (December 2009 and 2010 in the spacious acoustic of the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre. ) The 5.1 DSD recording places the piano firmly centre stage and at times a more prominent orchestral presence might have been desirable. Overall the sound quality is good and the extra ambience provided by the surround channels is most welcome.

There is no doubt that this recording will further enhance the growing reputation of this outstanding Russian virtuoso.

Definitely recommended.

Copyright © 2012 Graham Williams and


Sonics (Multichannel):

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Comments (2)

Comment by Waveform - February 14, 2017 (1 of 2)

Currently this is the only multi-channel SACD of Shostakovich's Piano Concertos which seems to be little odd today. I just listened to the both concertos.

Performances were very good, indeed. But the recording was (in multichannel) surprisingly dry and flat. The centre channel was too faint - perhaps I should increase its volume +0,5dB - while the additional low-frequency channel was mostly overly clamorous.

It is a great shame that Hyperion has no plans release Shostakovich: Piano Concertos 1-2 - Hamelin, Litton again.

Comment by Stephen Wright - February 21, 2017 (2 of 2)

It's a puzzle that Hyperion hasn't licensed a third party to reissue their entire multichannel catalogue -- Hyperion would make a few pounds off recordings that are right now generating nothing for them but still in demand. Seems like a win-win-win for Hyperion, the third party, and music lovers.