Paramax Films captured the concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra at its resident venue of Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv in July 2015 conducted by Zubin Mehta and starring Georgian concert pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. The film showcases a performance of the piano’s most famous orchestral repertoire; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 and Liszt’s virtuosic Piano Concerto No 2 with its waves of sound.
Russian pianist Denis Matsuev has established himself as one of the most dynamic and virtuosic performers of his generation, and his program on this RCA album with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic is ideally suited to his extraordinary abilities. The pairing of Sergey Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is a natural one, particularly because of the works' shared post-romanticism (note Rachmaninov's influence on Gershwin's slow theme in the Rhapsody), as well as for the dazzling writing for the piano in both works. Of course, the challenge for Matsuev is to make his part appear effortless, and he succeeds so well in both performances that listeners may be a bit blasé about his playing, taking it in without really considering what knuckle-busters these pieces really are.
The music of renowned Chinese composer Xia Guan has been received with acclaim in Moscow, Vienna, Tokyo and New York. The solemn first movement of Earth Requiem, a commemoration of the devastating 2008 Sichuan earthquake, is heard here in an orchestral version that depicts ‘the suffering people who gaze upwards’. The epic Symphony No. 2 ‘Hope’ is a reflection upon the co-existence of good and evil in mankind, agony and hope, in music of considerable breadth and increasing warmth. Heroic drama animates the vividly scored Symphonic Ballade, which draws on the music of Guan’s opera Sorrowful Dawn, the story of China’s War of Liberation following the end of World War Two.