LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev

LSO Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev

Revolutionary Russians

After densely packed explorations of Berlioz and Szymanowski, Valery Gergiev returns to the Russian repertoire that made his name. David Nice explains the series ...

This season, Gergiev runs the gamut from the beginnings of a coherent nationalist school represented by its leader, Mily Balakirev. His tone poem Russia was a seminal work in the 1860s when the master had finally gathered around him the now better-known names of Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Borodin. Balakirev's pioneering exploration of Russian orientalism is represented by the racy Islamey, headiest of virtuoso piano pieces, as orchestrated by Lyapunov.

From here up to the last work chronologically speaking – Boris Tishchenko's First Symphony, unknown to most listeners but a fine example of his individual voice in Soviet times – we are on more familiar territory. The three soloists include Denis Matsuev, a heavyweight well-suited to master the colossal spans of Tchaikovsky's glittering Second Piano Concerto; Nikolaj Znaider, who will find freshness in the lyric flow of the more familiar Violin Concerto; while LSO Leader Roman Simovic has the pleasure of Glazunov's more compressed but equally melodic Violin Concerto.

The symphonic line begins with Tchaikovsky's natural successor Rachmaninov, ranging from his gripping, obsessive First Symphony of 1895 to the Third's thoughts of home composed from abroad in the mid-1930s. Prokofiev's two symphonic specimens are his breezy exercise in Haydnesque style circa 1917, the 'Classical', and the Fifth of 1944, his first attempt at an epic Soviet symphony with a sarcastic tone undermining any grandeur.

Shostakovich had something to celebrate by the time he completed his Tenth Symphony in 1953: Stalin was gone and the composer rampages triumphantly in a genuinely exuberant finale. There is so much tragedy along the way, though: Gergiev has long been a master of the long, dark opening movement paragraphs. He ends with enigma: the 15th Symphony of 1971, quoting Rossini and Wagner before eternity beckons in a supernatural array of whirrings and clickings.

Denis Matsuev: LSO Artist Portrait

Hailed by the New York Times as 'the successor to Russian keyboard lions like Evgeny Kissin, Arcadi Volodos and ... Vladimir Horowitz', Denis Matsuev is a pianist to be reckoned with. Having shot to prominence winning the 1998 International Tchaikovsky Competition, this powerhouse Siberian pianist has wowed audiences across the globe with his fiery-hearted interpretations and steel-fingered virtuosity.

'Matsuev made something bright and brilliant of the symphony's remarkably Bartókian first movement, and brought a coltish energy to the tumultuous finale.'
The Independent

A close collaborator with the LSO, Matsuev returns to the Barbican this autumn to star in the new season's UBS Soundscapes: LSO Artist Portrait series. Choosing to focus on iconic homeland repertoire for this career landmark, Matsuev will perform Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 3, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 2 and Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2, each forming part of three all-Russian programmes.

With a true stalwart of Russian pianism at the keyboard and Russia's pre-eminent conductor on the podium, few performances could promise to be so definitive. For anyone with a taste for Russian drama, Matsuev's Artist Portrait series is unmissable.

> Sun 21 Sep 2014
TISHCHENKO Dante Symphony No 1
('Among the Living')
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No 3
Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano

> Tue 23 Sep 2014
PROKOFIEV Symphony No 1 ('Classical')
TCHAIKOVSKY Piano Concerto No 2
PROKOFIEV Symphony No 5
Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano

> Tue 11 Nov 2014
> Thu 13 Nov 2014
RACHMANINOV Piano Concerto No 2
Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano

> Thu 19 Feb 2015
GLAZUNOV Violin Concerto
Valery Gergiev conductor
Roman Simovic violin

> Tue 12 May 2015
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto
Valery Gergiev conductor
Nikolaj Znaider violin

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