This album opens with Shostakovich’s Concerto for Piano, Trumpet and Strings in C minor No. 1, Op. 35 (1933), as one might expect for an album by Denis Matsuev, a Russian pianist known for the power of his playing. However, this work does not fail to highlight Matsuev’s lyrical aspect, especially in the lento second movement. The contribution of the first trumpet player Gábor Tarkövi is also to be noted.
Contemporary composer Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra Op. 136 offers us a completely different sound. Composed in 1979, it carries the influence of futurism, even serialism, and is a perfect example of the polystylism that often defines Schnittke’s music. The term “polystylism” is an accurate reflection of the multiplicity of approaches found throughout the work, where the power of Matsuev’s playing is once again brought to the fore.
In conclusion, we’re presented with the Variations on a Paganini Theme by contemporary composer Witold Lutoslawski. This arrangement for piano, strings and percussion is marked by a beautiful balance between soloist and orchestra, and is particularly dynamic. Lutoslawski’s new dissonances and sonorities effectively give this theme a new lease on life.