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Denis Matsuev Debuts in a Solo Piano Recital at Carnegie Hall
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Denis Matsuev Debuts in a Solo Piano Recital at Carnegie Hall

- Classical and Cultural Connections

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Columbia Artists Management Presents:
Denis Matsuev
(Matsuev Website)

Denis Matsuev, Piano Recital

At Carnegie Hall

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 17, 2007


Robert Schumann (1810-1856): Kindrszenen (1838), Op. 15 (Scenes of Childhood)

Franz Liszt (1811-1886): Sonata in B minor (1854)
Lento assai – Allegro energico
Andante sostenuto – Allegro energico
Stretta quasi presto – Allegro moderato

Franz Liszt: Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke (1860) (Mephisto Waltz No. 1)

Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953): Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major (1939-1942), Op. 83
Allegro inquieto
Andante caloroso

Tonight was Denis Matsuev’s solo debut at Carnegie Hall, and the concert was an immediate success. Mr. Matsuev had already won the 11th International Tschaikovsky competition in Moscow and has presented recitals around the globe, including the Washington DC Kennedy Center, Hamburg, Vienna, St. Petersburg, Milan, and Tokyo. In Russia, he has appeared with the Mariinsky Theatre, the Kirov Orchestra, and the Russian National Orchestra.

BMG has released Mr. Matsuev’s debut CD, “A Tribute to Horowitz” (2004), and another CD in 2006, a disc of Tschaikovsky and Stravinsky, as well as a CD with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Yuri Temirkanov of Tschaikovsky and Shostakovich piano concertos. He is also recording on the official Rachmaninoff piano in Lucerne.

Mr. Matsuev tackled challenging, lesser known piano works, and the Schumann Kindrszenen was replete with rapid fingering and pregnant pauses. The piece, which includes 13 “Scenes of Childhood”, began with quiet introspection, progressing to seamless staccatos and scherzo-like passages. Dynamic yet structured qualities ensued, as familiar refrains resounded. Mr. Matsuev’s head and torso seemed to barely move, yet he exuded pathos and expression in his focused interpretation. There was an intellectual, rather than spiritual quality to this first work, an illustration of his sizeable talent.

The Liszt Sonata in B minor, in contrast, drew on the performer’s devilish, driven magnetism, in a delirious, impressionistic style. The sonata’s feverish then feathery first movement proceeds to further surprises, before disciplined drama builds to repetitive chords. The Liszt “Mephisto Waltz No. 1” was inspired by Goethe’s Faust. It evokes a bacchanalia, dancing and drinking, amidst the echoes of Mephistopheles’ laughter, that subsides in desire and in a song of a nightingale. The pianist needs to be skilled in complicated compositional devices, and Mr. Matsuev mastered the work with ease. There was no hesitation, no tentative phrasing. Rather, Mr. Matsuev flew through the fiery passages with frenzy and flourish.

For the Prokofiev Piano Sonata No. 7, Mr. Matsuev captured the musical dissonance and rapture, the propulsive rhythms and impassioned phrasing, all so Prokofiev (a composer who loves to “quote himself” in his repertoire; one could hear quotes from his ballets and symphonies). This sonata was composed at the start of World War II, and the angst and alarm intrinsic to that Soviet culture can be heard throughout the work. Mr. Matsuev played on the brooding, bellicose themes, with fragmented chords and lightning fingering. Numerous renowned encores followed (Liszt, Grieg, Rachmaninoff), each more improvisational, and each emboldening the audience’s accolades. Kudos to Denis Matsuev on tonight’s Carnegie Hall solo debut.

Denis Matsuev
Photo Courtesy of Pavel Antonov

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at