The Mariinsky label presents Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3 and Symphony No 5, two of the composer's most popular works. Denis Matsuev features as soloist, in this his fourth recording on the label. Since winning the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1998, Matsuev has established a reputation as one of Russia’s leading pianists, renowned for his interpretations of Russian music. His recordings of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3 and Paganini Variations, Shostakovich's Piano Concertos Nos 1 & 2 and Tchaikovsky’s first two piano concertos have all received widespread acclaim.
Written in 1944, at the height of World War II, the fifth symphony was intended as “a hymn to free and happy Man, to his mighty powers, his pure and noble spirit.” The symphony’s character was inevitably determined by the time and circumstances of its composition. It would be a patriotic work; big, heroic and ultimately optimistic, a symphony of mass appeal. ‘I thought of it as a work glorifying the human spirit,’ wrote the composer.
Prokofiev wrote five piano concertos, but it is his third that has garnered the most popularity and critical acclaim. It remains one of Prokofiev’s most popular pieces and the qualities of clarity and vitality that appealed to the work’s original audiences become apparent almost immediately as the work begins.