Category Archives: Concert reviews

Oleg Marshev- pianistic pleasures at Waikanae

imageMiddle C – Classical Music Reviews. Wellington, New Zealand

By Peter Mechen, 31/07/2016
Waikanae Music Society presents:
Oleg Marshev (piano)

BRAHMS – Piano Sonata No.3 in F Minor Op.5
RAVEL – Valses nobles et Sentimentales
Gaspard de la nuit

Memorial Hall, Waikanae

Sunday, 31st July 2016

This was the sort of programme that, on paper, would quicken the pulse of anybody interested in the romantic piano repertoire in general – and with Oleg Marchev’s name attached to the enterprise, would settle the issue for the majority of piano-fanciers, myself among them. And while I might not have put Brahms’ name forward as a composer whose music I would have liked to hear Marshev play ahead of people such as Liszt, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev, I confess was eagerly anticipating the chance to hear in recital that seldom-played titan among piano sonatas, Brahms’ Op.5 in F Minor.

Is there a more confrontational, cheek-by-jowl, eyeballing opening to a piece of solo piano music in the romantic repertoire than the beginning of this work? My first-ever live encounter with this music was at the hands of the great Peter Donohoe (until recently, well-known to New Zealand audiences), on a never-to-be-forgotten occasion I witnessed in a Midlands English town twenty years ago, when he too began his recital with the piece. There I felt as if the piano was in danger of coming apart out of sheer strain generated by the power and physicality of the playing! – and even with Marshev’s slightly more controlled responses to the music, I still got the impression of a fist being shaken at the heavens, though with rather more nervous energy and urgency than sheer, granite-like power and muscle.

As important as these moments were the contrasting lyrical sequences, which Marshev presented in beautifully-appointed paragraphs, building the ensuing surges of tone up into noble climaxes. What the playing might have lacked in raw visceral impact, it gained in cumulative effect, Marshev’s control excitingly let off its leash at the development’s opening, the pianistic textures jagged and attention-grabbing, leaving our sensibilities exhausted and gratefully receptive to whatever solace the music brought us in the aftermath. A noble, golden-toned major-key version of the opening reassured us for a few moments before the music plunged back into the opening, everything once again magnificently orchestrated and awe-inspiring. How wonderful it was to be again relieved by Marshev’s way with those poignantly contrasted, rolling lyrical paragraphs once again, persuading us that life’s storms are to be stoically endured rather than suffered without any hope or consolation.

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SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL. WHANGAREI 2013

Oleg Marshev Test Drives Whangarei’s Refurbished Steinway

April 23, 2013

New ZealandNew Zealand  Debussy, Mussorgsky: Oleg Marshev (piano), Capitaine Bougainville Theatre, Forum North, Whangarei, Northland, New Zealand, 9.4.2013 [PSe]

Debussy:  Préludes, Book II
Mussorgsky:  Pictures at an Exhibition

Happy accidents don’t happen all that often – but then, I suppose, if they did we wouldn’t think them anything remarkable, would we? What fascinates me is how two completely independent courses of action can worm their ways along two utterly unconnected timelines, end up at the exact same point in the space-time continuum, and strike sparks of fairy-dust (or something on those lines).

What makes the happy accident I have in mind even more remarkable is that it involves a District Council. Some thirty years ago the people of Whangarei acquired, through public subscription, a Steinway grand piano, which they entrusted to the care of the Council. Going on for 29 years later, the Council decided that the piano’s annual service must be about due; – that is, they arranged for the poor, overworked – and fairly dilapidated – beastie to be completely refurbished. This took a year and cost NZ$50,000 (so, naturally, numerous citizens complained about using ratepayers’ money to benefit a well-to-do minority – conveniently overlooking whose piano it was, and just how many diverse “minorities” it benefited).

Now, try to put the last paragraph out of your mind whilst you read this one! About a year ago, Oleg Marshev was busy trying to re-establish his regular NZ recital tours. He negotiated successfully with numerous customers, including Whangarei Music Society (WMS). Although very happy that Marshev’s return had been assured, WMS felt disappointed knowing that  Forum North’s Steinway was out of commission, and that Marshev would have to play their own, somewhat less exalted piano.

In his career Marshev – who hails from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan – has won many laurels and appeared at numerous “prestigious” venues (yet, curiously, remains probably the greatest living pianist never to have appeared at the Proms). You can of course find all that sort of thing in the standard “blurbs”, but less often mentioned is the impressive array of recordings he has made, over the years, for the small (but beautifully marked) Danish company Danacord, many of which have been reviewed by MusicWeb.

These give you a very good idea what sort of pianist Marshev is. You’ll find all the trappings of a “virtuoso showman” – extreme digital dexterity, technical mastery, impressive dynamic range and so on. But you won’t actually find a “showman”, virtuoso or otherwise, for Marshev is one of those rarer birds, one who first and foremost plays music. To him, virtuosity is just another “weapon” in his technical “arsenal”, to be called on when necessary to best serve the music he’s playing.

Continue reading SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL. WHANGAREI 2013

MusicWeb International, London Phil

Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich: Oleg Marshev (piano), London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, 24.11.2010 (BBr)

Stravinsky: Scherzo fantastique (1909)
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No.3 in C, op.26 (1916/1921)
Shostakovich: Symphony No.11 in G minor, The Year 1905, op.103 (1957)

It is impossible to claim that Stravinsky’s Scherzo fantastique is anything more than a fragrant morsel, albeit one which set the composer on his path to fame and fortune. Tonight, Petrenko gave it with a delightfully light touch which fully suited the work, and pointed the Firebird connections. I’ve never before understood what it was that attracted Diaghilev to Stravinsky until now, and after hearing this performance it’s so obvious! A nice starter.

There’s  no problem in understanding why Prokofiev’s 3rd Concerto has achieved the popularity it enjoys – good tunes, dazzling keyboard writing and a nicely pointed sense of fun. Oleg Marshev was a sparkling soloist, making light of the work and even managing to sound elegant in the passagework, which is no mean achievement. I was conscious of a slight balance problem in the first few minutes but things were quickly sorted out and thereafter we had a delightful performance which truly suited the work. It’s interesting that all the problems which beset the hall when it re-opened, in terms of balance between soloist and orchestra, seem, in general, to be a thing of the past and this is to be applauded. The variations of the slow movement were well characterised and the finale, with its nose thumbing grotesquerie, was real fun.

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The Independent. London Phil

http://www.independent.co.uk

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Petrenko, Royal Festival Hall

What a journey we took here from the muted half-lights of Stravinsky’s Scherzo Fantastique to the tumultuous bell-laden prophecy at the close of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony.

Vasily Petrenko was at the helm of the London Philharmonic taking time out from his Scousers to probe and reveal with his customary precision a repertoire that is so plainly at the very heart of his being.

Stravinsky’s Scherzo is essentially a dress rehearsal for the Firebird’s entrance with every section of the richly adorned but discreetly muted orchestra whirring to the perpetual motion of as yet only imagined choreography. Three harps pick out the iridescence of the Firebird’s plumage, the scoring so light as to point up the elusiveness of it all. A perfect morsel of Stravinskian ephemera, deftly attended.

But stranger imaginings were stirring in the quasi-Spanish, castanet clicking, danse macabre which pops up as the second subject of Prokofiev’s 3rd Piano Concerto. The joy of this piece lies in the precarious tension between its brittle toccata-like elements and a ravishing laid-back lyricism and that was something Oleg Marshev took in his stride, the sound full and beautiful, eerily so in that moment at the start of the second movement where the hands go as far as they can in opposite directions. A little more hard-edged brilliance might have served the devilish nature of the piece better and I can see why Marshev was quick to offer an encore – Liszt’s Transcendental Study No.10 – where he could take the lid off his sound and temperament.

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Bournemouth Echo

Russian Classics, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Pavilion, Bournemouth, October 24th, 2009

http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk
THERE’S never a shortage of Rachmaninov works in the concert hall and in this all-Russian programme the under appreciated Piano Concerto No.1 was centrepiece. The brilliant Russian pianist Oleg Marshev has a natural gift of idiomatic involvement that informs every note.The dynamic range and technical command was tremendously impressive in the tautly constructed outer movements and his feeling for Rachmaninov’s romantically inspired lyricism made the central Andante mesmerising.

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RADIO NEW ZEALAND, Auckland 2008

RADIO NEW ZEALAND

in Auckland, Concert Chamber, July 1st, 2008 Brahms Sonata n.1
Liszt Apres une lecture du Dante
Chopin 3 Walses op.34, Ballade n.4
Scriabin 2 Mazurkas op.40, 2 Poems op.32, Poeme “Vers la flamme”
A reviewer Sarah Watkin interviewed by Eva Radich

What sort of programme did he choose for his recital?

Well, it was a very, richly Romantic programme – music by Brahms, Liszt, Chopin and Scriabin and, of course, all these composers were virtuoso pianists themselves, so it was a very, richly musical evening. When Chopin waltzes are the light music on a programme you know you are in for a treat.

Interesting putting Chopin and Scriabin together, I would have imagined?

Yes, well, what I heard in the music that sort of linked the two obviously Scriabin’s mazurkas that Oleg played were inspired by those of Chopin but there’s this kind of improvisatory quality to the music and a real, almost jazz-like sense of harmony and freedom of timing and I thought it was a really effective paring in the second half.

The Brahms’ Sonata, I imagine that was the major work on the programme, was it?

Yes, it was, it’s a good thirty minutes worth of music and this is a very – it’s Brahms’ opus 1 Sonata, and a very youthful work. He was all of about nineteen, I think, when he wrote it and very authoritative and bold chords, strong, strong writing and, of course, very virtuosic. It took the audience in its grips, he, Oleg strode out on stage and promptly sat down and immediately burst into these really strong chords. It was almost like we hadn’t had a chance to catch our breath and open the programme books. He really asserted his authority on the music, right from the first note.

I thought it was interesting that he chose Brahms’ Sonata no 1 when he is known for his enthusiasm for less well-known composers. How did he make it his own?

This was the first time that I’ve heard Oleg Marshev play and what really impressed me was the effortlessness with which he played the whole programme and it struck me that this is a player whose primary concern is the music and not virtuosity for virtuosity’s sake. It’s incredibly difficult music, all of it, and yet he just played it with this sense of ease and space and beautifully lyrical playing, rich sonorities. You were aware of every note, every line in the music, every little detail was there. At times, for me, maybe the sound was almost too thick and rich, but that evolved as the programme developed as well and I think it was a product of the music as much as anything. But it was quite staggeringly impressive playing.

Continue reading RADIO NEW ZEALAND, Auckland 2008

Hamilton

Hamilton Recital

What: HCMS: Oleg Marshev. Works by: Brahms, Liszt, Chopin and Scriabin Where: Wel Academy When: Saturday, July 12 Reviewed by: Andrew Buchanan- Smart
Hamilton was privileged to hear the brilliant virtuoso Russian pianist Oleg Marshev. His sense of oneness with the music was demonstrated with consummate artistry; a nuanced blend where technique served the music, always proportioned and balanced.

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musicweb-international. Nz 2008

http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2008/Jul-Dec08/marshev1707.htm

Whangarei Recital

Oleg Marshev (pf.), Capitaine Bougainville Theatre, Whangarei, New Zealand, 17.7.2008 Brahms – Sonata No. 1, op. 1; Liszt – Spanish Rhapsody; Chopin – Three Waltzes op. 34, Ballade No. 4 op. 52; Scriabin – Two Mazurkas op. 40, Two Poemes op. 32, Vers la Flamme op. 72
The auditorium of the Capitaine Bougainville Theatre admirably fulfils its acoustical design criteria. Although it’s splendid for dramatic productions, an acoustic that’s as dry as dust does tend to drain the life out of “live” music. Fortunately the piano, with its largely self-contained ambience, is relatively impervious to such surroundings. However, this won’t prevent some pianists putting their own murk into the music.

The many recordings of the Azerbaijani pianist Oleg Marshev testify to the needle-sharp clarity of his articulation. Hence, not many pianists, it seems, could be as well qualified to do battle with – or, rather, take advantage of – the theatre’s deliberately desiccated acoustics. Marshev’s programme, counterposing the dense, chord-heavy textures of Brahms against the often fingertip filigree of Chopin, Liszt and Scriabin, met the challenge head-on.

Having become acquainted with Marshev exclusively through his Danacord discography, I was truly drooling over the prospect of, at long last, actually seeing him perform. You see, for years I’d been waiting in vain for him to appear somewhere in my native Yorkshire. If you’re thinking that travelling 12,000 miles to catch up with him seems Continue reading musicweb-international. Nz 2008

DOMINION EVENING POST 2006

DOMINION EVENING POST
Aug. 22, 2006

VISITING PIANIST A PURE PRIVILEGE

Sonata No 26 ‘Les Adieux’ (Beethoven); Three Piano Pieces, D 946 (Schubert); Rachmaninov: Corelli Variations, Op 42, Etudes-Tableaux, Op 39 Nos 1 and 2, Preludes Op 23 Nos 2 and 5

Oleg Marshev told Charlotte Wilson on Concert FM’s Upbeat on Tuesday that this was his fifth tour of New Zealand; each managed by that model impresario Helen Collier of Taihape. Each tour involves performances in many, mainly provincial towns: this time he will have given 12 performances.

One would not expect a pianist of Marshev’s calibre to undertake such a tour: he records for an international label and has played, inter alia, at the Lincoln Centre in New York and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam; he is one of the most talented of the brilliant group of younger Russian pianists. But he simply said he enjoyed playing for two as much as for 2000.

Marshev has all the spectacular virtuosity you could wish for – see the Rachmaninov works in the second half of the concert – but most interestingly, he understands the nature of Schubert and the extent of the liberties he can take with dynamics, in distinguishing the layers of music from each other, in stretching the limits of rubato and rhythmic variety.

The Three Piano Pieces of Schubert’s last year emerged with stature comparable to the three great piano sonatas of later in that year. In particular, the second piece – the Allegretto – took on the character of a great if somewhat unorthodox sonata movement. The concert had begun with Beethoven’s sonata in which he described his leaving to escape Napoleon’s army’s advance on Vienna – one of the few of Beethoven’s works that tells a story. There was a particularly slow, reflective beginning, but in later passages Marshev brought sudden energy, romantic expressiveness and a varied and imaginative palette of colours.

Though the pairs of Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux and Preludes served well to display his range of his technical and interpretive powers, the major work was the Corelli Variations – on the once popular Iberian tune, La Folia.

Maintaining interest in the essentially simple tune is a great challenge to a pianist: in Marshev’s hands one was more aware of the encompassing shape of the work than with individual variations, which is how it should be.

In response to the highly appreciative applause, Marshev played three encores: Bach’s Organ Prelude in F minor arranged by Siloti, a Concert Galop by Emil von Sauer and Prokofiev’s piano -wrecking study No 4.

Reviewed by Lindis Taylor