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Denis Matsuev has brilliantly performed and recorded Alfred Schnittke's and Dmitri Shostakovich's piano concertos for the DG

The Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has recorded two of the most interesting and popular Russian piano concertos of the 20th century with the Chamber Orchestra Vienna-Berlin for Deutsche Grammophon: Shostakovich's early stroke of genius in the form of the 1st Piano Concerto op. 35 and Alfred Schnittke's Concerto for piano and string orchestra.

Alfred Schnittke, who died in 1998, used the piano in a special way, but not in the manner of his contemporaries John Cage or Karlheinz Stockhausen. The latter, as Matsuev's colleague Maria Lettberg once remarked, were actually not interested in the piano sound but instead basically wanted to construct other, new instruments from the piano with all kinds of tools. Characteristic of Schnittke's conception of the piano are percussive approaches, clusters, complicated rhythms, and great dynamic contrasts. He likes to use all the registers of the piano, alternating between dissonant chordal structure and sharply contoured, bursting counter parts. Denis Matsuev's interpretation meets these demands uniquely. The drive, which is particularly exuberant in the finale of Shostakovich's magnificent early work is, in this new recording, quite captivating. 

Founded in 2008, the Vienna-Berlin Chamber Orchestra consists of leading members of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic and combines the impressive tonal beauty of both leading orchestras in its agile, chamber music playing. In a debut recording, the ensemble presents Schnittke's Concerto for piano and string orchestra, in a first recording for DG alongside Shostakovich's Piano Concerto No. 1 for piano, trumpet and strings and Lutosławski’s Variations on a theme by Paganini, arranged for piano, string orchestra and percussion. 

Sir Simon Rattle laid the foundation stone for this ensemble with the wish to conduct a joint concert with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic on the occasion of his 50th birthday. The performance was so inspiring that the desire arose to continue this shared experience. This is how the Vienna-Berlin Chamber Orchestra was born. Today, under the artistic direction of Rainer Honeck (Concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic), the musicians meet regularly to perform chamber music works outside the large philharmonic repertoire, while they are often accompanied by the most sought-after soloists of our time. The orchestra made its US debut in 2019 with the concerts held there featuring Anne-Sophie Mutter. 

On CD:
Alfred Schnittke:
Concert for piano and string orchestra
Dmitri Shostakovich:
Concerto No. 1 for piano, trumpet and strings op. 35
Chamber Orchestra Vienna-Berlin
Denis Matsuev (piano)
Gabor Tarkövi (trumpet)
Conductor: Rainer Honeck
DG 4838489


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