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For his fourth album for Sony BMG Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has chosen to record an album of Rachmaninoff’s most virtuosic and dynamic works for piano. The album also contains the world premiere recording of two hitherto unknown pieces by Rachmaninoff, recently rediscovered by the Rachmaninoff Foundation: the Fugue in D minor and the Suite for Orchestra in D minor in a version Rachmaninoff created for piano. The recording itself was made in Rachmaninoff’s summer residence in Switzerland, where he composed many of his major works, using the composer’s own piano. The project was initiated and supported by the Rachmaninoff Foundation and Alexander Rachmaninoff in particular.
“At least two outstanding recordings of Rachmaninov's Second Piano Sonata have come my way in recent years (from Yevgeny Sudbin on BIS, and Simon Trpceski on EMI)… Yet Denis Matsuev's performance… is a formidable achievement, demonstrating breathtaking control of the complex polyphonic writing, while negotiating the ebb and flow of the musical argument with great purpose and direction.”
“Denis Matsuev is a virtuoso in the grandest of grand Russian traditions who returns us to the great days of Emil Gilels. He possesses the sort of technique which begins where others end, and here in Rachmaninov his playing is truly 'stewed in Russian juices'. His recital, entitled 'Unknown Rachmaninov', is in fact a mix of the familiar and newly discovered. And while the piano version of the D minor orchestral Suite is hardly characteristic, let alone vintage Rachmaninov, it is played up to the hilt by Matsuev. The D minor Fugue is a more convincing discovery with its prophecy of the E minor Moment musicaux demanding and receiving a red-hot virtuosity. Again, Matsuev may have you longing for the fuller 1913 version of the Second Sonata but his playing blazes with such towering strength and conviction that he leaves you with virtually no grounds for complaint. His pace in the 'Red Riding Hood' A minor Etude-tableau is hair-raising and the earlier Etude in the same key is given with a scale and romantic turbulence that declare the pianist's nationality in every bar. The G minor Prelude can scarcely have been played more stunningly in its entire history. This excellently recorded disc presents the most trenchant and commanding Rachmaninov recital in years.”
“Ever since his triumph in the 1998 Tchaikovsky Competition, Denis Matsuev's name has inspired awe and amazement in musical circles. Here is a virtuosos in the grandest of grand Russian traditions who returns us to the great days of Emil Gilels… this excellently recorded disc presents the most trenchant and commanding Rachmaninov recital I have heard in years.”
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