Matsuev/Mariinsky O/Gergiev: Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No 3; Paganini Rhapsody | CD review


When it launched last year with an outstanding recording of Shostakovich's opera The Nose, the Mariinsky label seemed as if it was going to make available some genuinely important performances of the repertory that Valery Gergiev and his company have been exploring now for almost two decades – recordings of the Rimsky-Korsakov operas that were not included in Gergiev's series for Philips, perhaps, or Russian rarities such as Rubinstein's The Demon. What has been issued subsequently, though, has been far less adventurous, and this latest Rachmaninov disc is distinctly run of the mill. Denis Matsuev's piano playing is often admired, but always seems to me to be short on personality, and that lack of individuality is a serious flaw in both the Third Piano Concerto and the Paganini Rhapsody. The opening of the concerto is so lacking in presence, or in any sense of what is about to unfold, that attention begins to wander within seconds, and though Matsuev has all the technique he needs to muscle his way through the huge first-movement cadenza, the performances rarely come to life elsewhere.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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