Alexander Sladkovsky finds ‘a blooming fern’

Alexander Sladkovsky finds ‘a blooming fern’ Photo: Roman Khasaev

Denis Matsuev Meets His Friends festival has been held in Kazan for the fourth time. The famous pianist once again confirmed his liking to Tatarstan orchestra at the Saydashev State Great Concert Hall and showed a masterful performance. However, we cannot say that the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra and its chief conductor were engaged only in the accompaniment.

Thinner Matsuev

Denis Matsuev, who had not been in Kazan since spring, appeared at the press conference quite thinner and therefore younger. However, it was impossible to overshadow Alexander Sladkovsky in a perfectly fitting tailcoat — the chief conductor and artistic director of the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra, the initiator of the Denis Matsuev Meets His Friends festival, was dazzling.

Both Sladkovsky and Matsuev were in good spirits and willingly communicated with the press. The tour of Tatarstan National Orchestra around Europe will begin soon, where together with the orchestra from Tatarstan in the main concert hall of Vienna there will be Denis Matsuev.

'I've just returned from Europe and I can say that there is already an excitement, many people ask me what the Tatarstan Symphony is, the many have already seen it on Mezzo channel, on the Internet there are a lot of records, all of this anticipate the tour. This is the result of the last years of Maestro Sladkovsky's work in this team. Wonderful, friendly team, they are my great friends. It's a great happiness to go on stage with the orchestra and Maestro Sladkovsky, to make new programmes, we are never the same in Kazan. I would not say that the concert in Vienna is a sensation. Each appearance on stage is a big responsibility for a musician. I have no doubt that the orchestra in Europe will have a huge success. But this is not the end, this is only the beginning, I am sure that a world success in different countries awaits for the team,' commented Denis Matsuev on the upcoming tour.

The tour of Tatarstan National Orchestra around Europe will begin soon, where together with the orchestra from Tatarstan in the main concert hall of Vienna there will be Denis Matsuev

As for Alexander Sladkovsky, he noted that it is happiness — every year, at least twice, to meet with Denis Matsuev. 'We're going on tour in Europe, and it is valuable, our friendship with Mr Matsuev has transformed in tandem, which gives great results, very important for the development of the symphonic style in the Republic,' said the maestro.

Denis Matsuev came on stage in the first part, he played the Concerto No. 3 for piano and orchestra in C minor by Beethoven. And it was Kazan's premiere — the Beethoven Concerto had never been heard in the capital of Tatarstan before in this composition. Transparency and majesty — these are, perhaps, the key words to the interpretation of Beethoven's Concerto by Matsuev and the Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra.

The composer wrote this concerto at the beginning of the last century, dedicating it to the king of Prussia. Baltic lapping waves seemed to intertwine with a gentle breeze in a green alley in this music, the wind suddenly blew a light scarf of a beautiful strange woman. Matsuev was lyrical and focused, he smiled easily, as if talking to himself, and both the maestro and the orchestra were his equal partners on this first evening of the festival.

The pianist did every note, making them vibrant, he was passionate, contemplative, a little sentimental by that special 'thoroughbred' sentimentality – a characteristic of the pre-romantic era. Sentimentality, from which romanticism was born later. The epochas, when the chime of crystal pendants on the chandelier in the ballroom sometimes said more than a long monologue. This crystal chime appeared from his fingers.

Then Matsuev was singing, smashing the mind of the audience, by his phenomenal technique and not just ability but a thirst for improvisation.

Matsuev was lyrical and focused

'From light to darkness transition…'

The concert began with St. John's Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky. A whirlwind of sounds, the frantic pace, it seemed that this endless flight of spirits under the Bald Mountain would never end. But no, St. John's Night is short, dawn comes and the dark forces disappear. A frenzy of violins and double basses, gusts of copper accompany them.

Alexander Sladkovsky was strange during the performance of Mussorgsky. His ordinary temperament, expression were added with something more. This something is almost Nikolay Gogol's sarcasm, as if he mocked the forces of evil, no doubting that with dawn they disappear. According to the legend, at St. John's Night, once a year, fern blooms. And one who picks such rare flower will find the way to the treasure — the fern will show. It seemed that the maestro found 'a blooming fern'.

The second part was given to Sergey Rachmaninoff — the Tatarstan State Symphonic Orchestra performed the Symphony No. 1 in D minor, where the conductor surprised by an unusual interpretation. The whole symphony was like the power of the unconscious over a man. The whole symphony was 'from light to darkness transition'. A high tragedy that fell on the audience from the very first bars of music, almost classical, uncompromising, was replaced by blissful lyricism, like a journey to Eden.

It seemed that the maestro found 'a blooming fern'

In all this there was the character of the man who as if was telling about his entire life, how he sees his future, he rebelled and sometimes subdued, he was impulsive and wise. When the music stopped, the maestro turned face to the audience, and we saw the man who less than in an hour lived several lives. It was difficult, perhaps, unbearable, but he was happy.

By Tatyana Mamaeva. Photo: Roman Khasaev