RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (2009)

Rachmaninov

Mariinsky Orchestra, Denis Matsuev

Valery Gergiev

Rachmaninov wrote his Third Piano Concerto, op.30, in 1909. By this date the 36-year old composer had written the most important two thirds of what would be his entire output: three operas and two symphonies, outstanding in their artistry and creativity. The Third Piano Concerto was conceived at this ‘golden mean’ in his creative life. This is not just a mathematical notion: I believe that the score is the most perfect reflection of Rachmaninov as artist and man. It is the embodiment of his contribution to the history of the new music. Rachmaninov was of course a genius, both as composer and pianist, but it was the piano concerto that was to be the synthesis and symbol of his musical gift, and the Third Piano Concerto indisputably represents the peak of his genius.

Chronologically the Third Piano Concerto belongs to the period described in Russia as the Silver Age. However, as a counterbalance to the centrifugal tendencies of this artistic period, the main creative thrust in Rachmaninov’s work is centripetal and the centre is in fact the Russian person, with all the spiritual and emotional attributes and intrinsic elements of that symbolic person. In the Third Piano Concerto, national traits are enveloped in a European virtuoso style but this style is interpreted in a more Russian way which is particularly effective. When we combine this with the deep personal nature of his musical expression, we can see that this work reflects not simply the power of the Russian style but also the lyricism of personal emotion.

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Mariinsky Orchestra

The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra or the Kirov Orchestra is located in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The orchestra was founded in 1783 during the reign of Catherine the Great, it was known before the revolution as the Russian Imperial Opera Orchestra. The orchestra is one of the oldest musical institutions in Russia.

In 1935 Joseph Stalin changed its name (and that of the Ballet) to the Kirov, after Sergei Kirov, the first secretary of the Communist Party in Leningrad, whose 1934 murder by his regime Stalin was attempting to whitewash. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the name was changed back to the Mariinsky in 1992.

The current artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre is the conductor Valery Gergiev and the principal guest conductor is Nikolaj Znaider. Under Gergiev, the Mariinsky Orchestra has become one of the leading symphony orchestras in Russia.

Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev is Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Stars of the White Nights Festival (St Petersburg), the Moscow Easter Festival, the Gergiev Rotterdam Festival, the Mikkeli International Festival, and the Red Sea Festival in Eilat, Israel. His inspired leadership as Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre since 1988 has brought universal acclaim to this legendary institution. Born in Moscow, he studied conducting with Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory, won the Herbert von Karajan Conductors’ Competition aged 24, and made his Mariinsky Opera debut one year later conducting Prokofiev’s War and Peace. In 2003 he led St Petersburg’s 300th anniversary celebrations, and opened the Carnegie Hall season with the Mariinsky Orchestra,the first Russian conductor to do so since Tchaikovsky conducted the Hall’s inaugural concert in 1891. Valery Gergiev’s many awards include a Grammy, the Dmitri Shostakovich Award, the Golden Mask Award, People’s Artist of Russia Award, and France’s Royal Order of the Legion of Honour. His vast discography includes Russian operas, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Tchaikovsky Symphonies, and numerous discs on the LSO Live and Mariinsky labels, including a Mahler Symphony cycle, Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Wagner’s Parsifal, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and a disc of Debussy’s music.

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RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (2009)

Rachmaninov

Mariinsky Orchestra, Denis Matsuev

    ClassicsToday.com

Denis Matsuev is an amazing pianist. He shapes the Third Concerto's fistfuls of notes with consummate mastery. The work's opening theme has an easy elegance that's very beguiling, and Matsuev shapes the more massive of the two cadenza alternatives with great power. In the finale, the opening theme never sounds merely scrambled, and the massive chordal second subject builds in huge crescendos, but Matsuev never bangs or loses control. With the Paganini Rhapsody, each variation has shape and character, and the closing few really do offer a clinic in virtuoso keyboard artistry. The variation in triplets right before the famous 18th is particularly noteworthy: very ominous, louder, and darker than usual.

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    Sunday Times

As one might expect from someone hailed as Horowitz's successor, Matsuev holds that most titanic of piano concertos in a passionate embrace, lavish with his rubato, devastatingly certain in his articulation, sensitive to colour and balance, aware of how to pace and thus make coherent the architecture of this massive work. Importantly, for all his physical power and energy, he never makes a hard sound. There's commensurately sympathetic playing from the Mariinsky, who also match Matsuev's deft, vibrant musicianship in the brittler Rhapsody.

    BBC Music Magazine

Here, for once, is the level of artistry that the work needs. Denis Matsuev's phenomenal deftness is such that he can launch into the finale at an eyebrow-raising speed which he then has no trouble sustaining. And for all his seemingly endless reserves of technical power, he never makes an ugly sound ... The Paganini Rhapsody is another memorable experience, with Matsuev and Gergiev darting unerringly between the music's extremes of fantastical virtuosity and tight-reined lyricism.

    ClassicsTodayFrance -

What a pianist! Denis Matsuev is a phenomenon. Here he proves that he can associated his virtuosity with a real sense of style and aesthetic. Artistique 10 Technique 10

RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (2009)

Rachmaninov

Mariinsky Orchestra, Denis Matsuev


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MAR0505: RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No 3, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
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Tracks
1.
Piano Concerto No 3- i- Allegro ma non tanto
Rachmaninov
00:17:41   Select quality & channels above
2.
Piano Concerto No 3- ii- Intermezzo - Adagio
Rachmaninov
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3.
Piano Concerto No 3- iii- Finale - Alla breve
Rachmaninov
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4.
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Rachmaninov
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