Denis Matsuev

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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This is the first recording in Super Audio sound of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2 in G major, Op. 44, a work that has everything the first one does except for a tune that leaves you humming. Russia has never been known for audiophile recordings, but the team hired by St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre delivers here, putting Denis Matsuev front and center where he belongs and giving Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra space to spread out in the background. It's an awesome technical use of the space, and it communicates the essence of what Matsuev is: a blood-and-guts-and-thunder pianist of the old school, when pianists had to be a bit larger than life. Are there subtler performances of these concertos? Sure. Are there those in which the melodies of the Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23, sing a bit more passionately? Yes, most definitely. But are there others in which the intricacies of the Piano Concerto No. 2, in Tchaikovsky's own version, are so thoroughly nailed to the wall? Not many, and the sheer power in the first concerto has been matched only by the greats of the past. There's nothing exactly groundbreaking here, but for a Tchaikovsky concertos recording that will shake the walls, this is a good pick.

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