Matsuev Plays Rachmaninov

Rachmaninov and Shchedrin: Piano Concertos. The Mariinsky Label’s latest release showcases works for piano and orchestra by three of Russia’s great composers, with the celebrated Russian pianist Denis Matsuev featured as soloist. We get to listen to the following: Rachmaninov:

  • Piano Concerto No. 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 1


  • Piano Concerto No. 2


Performed by Denis Matsuev (piano), with the Mariinsky Orchestra, Valery Gergiev conducting. The Piano Concerto No 1 was written while Rachmaninov was still a teenager and though relatively playful in comparison to his later piano concertos, its three movements are full of the showmanship, beautiful melodies and lush orchestral accompaniment that were to characterize his music in the years to come. Completing the release is Shchedrin’s Piano Concerto No 2, recorded in the presence of the composer, which was influenced by 12-tone techniques and jazz. Virtuosic writing is found throughout, and the final movement sees the surprise introduction of a jazz ensemble, including vibraphone and drum kit. Speaking about this release, Denis Matsuev says: “We wanted to show great Russian composers from different periods. Rachmaninov’s First Piano Concerto is one of my favourites. It was written whilst he studied at the Moscow Conservatory and despite his young age he managed to reveal himself as a great artist. Capriccio is a brilliant work with a wonderful sense of humor. It is also very cinematic; one can envision this music whilst listening to it and we tried to communicate all of these features to the audience. Shchedrin is a very special composer in the Russian tradition. He takes an active part in rehearsals; we have an opportunity to talk to him, to exchange ideas and to listen to his advice. It is a priceless experience.”

Here is Denis Matsuev playing the Rachmaninov piano concerto no.1

And here is Denis Matsuev performing Rodion Shchedrin’s Humoresque: