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. Renowned for his interpretations of Russian music, and affectionately known as ‘the Siberian bear with the fastest paws in the Arctic,’ Matsuev’s previous releases on the Mariinsky label, including Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3 and 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini', have received widespread acclaim.
Piano Concerto No 1 was written whilst 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 characterise his music in the years to come. A similarly playful tone can be found in the revised 1949 version of Stravinsky’s 'Capriccio' for piano and orchestra, which was premiered in 1929 with the composer at the piano. Written as a virtuosic vehicle for Stravinsky himself, the piece is characterised by a dancing piano part which is full of leaps and bounding with energy. 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 humour. 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."