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Shostakovich: Piano Concertos No 1 & 2; Shchedrin: Piano Concerto No 5 / Matsuev, Gergiev, Mariinsky

Shostakovich / Shchedrin / Matsuev / Gergiev
Release Date: 02/14/2012 
Label:  Mariinsky   Catalog #: 509  
Composer:  Dmitri ShostakovichRodion Shchedrin
Performer:  Denis Matsuev
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
SuperAudio CD:  $19.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SHOSTAKOVICH Piano Concertos: No. 1; No. 2. SHCHEDRIN Piano Concerto No. 5 Denis Matsuev (pn); Valery Gergiev, cond; Mariinsky O MARIINSKY MARO509 (SACD: 73:32)


The immediate realization you have upon listening to this CD is that Valery Gergiev and Denis Matsuev are very much of one mind as to where to go with the music, and more importantly, perfectly matched for sonority. Gergiev’s characteristic sound is a very rich and rounded one Read more always––indeed weighty––but leavened by his immense energy and flexibility. Matsuev, similarly, makes a piano sound large and full––but improbably soft and nimble. He fires off gleaming notes from the keyboard, but they reach your ears like cannonballs on casters. He is, in practice and to the ear, a gentle giant.


As is known, Gergiev can find gravitas in every Shostakovich smile, so it is not surprising that these renditions of the two piano concertos favor the serious side of things. There is a sort of “heavy Baroque” quality to the sense of concentration, as though, just under the surface, Klemperer were conducting one of the Bach keyboard concertos with a huge orchestra. In the slow movement of the first concerto the gloom pays off, and the piece winds up sounding more substantive and less sarcastic than is usually the case. I’m not so sure, though, that the dreamy slow movement of the second concerto dreams enough. It seems a bit vertical and on the dour side. There are few genuinely romantic dinner-music moments in Shostakovich. This should be one of them. But Gergiev’s phrasing is détaché, and Matsuev tends to push the melody forward. Even so, the rendition is consistent and good––even if unlikely to be chosen for Muzak at the supermarket.


Denis Matsuev’s remarkably rich cascades of notes are put to good use in Shchedrin’s 1999 Fifth Piano Concerto. Like most Russian composers, Shchedrin expectedly echoes Stravinsky, Ravel, and Prokofiev at times. No. 5 opens, in fact, a bit like the Rite of Spring. But in this piece I hear the voice of Benjamin Britten from Peter Grimes. Britten’s music could be rich, heavy, and nearly static one moment, like a dramatic slow-moving cloud at sea––but then burst into an amiable chatter of seagulls, wind, and spray. Shchedrin’s music has the same chattering manner and slow-moving ineluctable power. Matsuev’s way with the many low Reger-like chords in it is majestic. This concerto is no harder to listen to than anything by Prokofiev, but it is one of these pieces that moves more through tectonic plates than through melody, so you don’t emerge from the experience humming it. To its credit, though, it is consistently interesting, carrying the listener up and down in slow waves. The keyboard writing is rich and satisfying to hear. The finale, nicely judged for drama, is an exciting toccata. Shchedrin’s orchestration swirls and builds impressively. The composer’s choice of high percussion at climactic moments reveals the genius of knowing how to dazzle euphoniously without attacking the listener.


It is indeed something of a compliment and a relief to reveal that a loud piece of modern music falls kindly on the ears. After all, for decades, contemporary works generally had all the howling charm of feedback from a public address system.


FANFARE: Steven Kruger
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 35 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Denis Matsuev (Piano)
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; USSR 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in F major, Op. 102 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Denis Matsuev (Piano)
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1957; USSR 
3.
Concerto for Piano no 5 by Rodion Shchedrin
Performer:  Denis Matsuev (Piano)
Conductor:  Valery Gergiev
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theater Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

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