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News & Reviews

Reviews page

Here you can find some reviews, both live performances and recordings:

Sample reviews of the violin/piano and solo piano works by Szymanowski, MO 0703:

Outstanding performances by Blanka Bednarz and Matthew Bengtson.

The performances add up to over three hours of stunners. ... Bednarz’s violin playing illuminates every detail of these sometimes nigh-impossible works. ... Readers who have heard Bengtson’s [Scriabin complete piano sonatas] will appreciate his genius interpreting the music of a kindred spirit. ... The technique of both artists is subordinate to the expressive and formal design. (Don O’sConnor, American Record Guide, January/February 2018)

Matthew Bengtson plays with technical assurance and a sense of authority in his understanding of Szymanowski’s modes of expression and unique musical voice.

This collection ... contains some of the composer’s most representative works and in performances and recordings that make it, in my opinion, something rather special. This can be strongly recommended then to those who already respond positively to Szymanowski’s music and to others of an adventurous spirit who are willing to find out if they might too.

(..Jerry Dubins, Fanfare, Nov./Dec. issue, 2017)

Bengtson’s playing throughout the duo selections is superb -- energetic, vibrant, technically impeccable, and in perfect coordination with his partner. He is equally compelling on his own. His account of the four Études of op. 4 (1902) is fluent, well controlled, and effectively shaped.

Breathtaking virtuosity, as well as vivid color and effective characterization, are to be heard in Masques, op. 34.

It is clear that Bengtson’s intensive study of this music [Mazurkas] has given him a deep understanding of it, and his flexible, shapely, and nuanced accounts, with their greater variety, wider contrasts, and more pronounced characterization, stand apart from the more aggressive performances of Hamelin and the steadier, plainer ones of Pöntinen and Roscoe. Bengtson yields nothing to these rivals in virtuosity.

(..Daniel Morrison, Fanfare, Nov./Dec. issue, 2017)

An ideal advocate of this repertoire [The Mazurkas op. 50 and 62], Matthew Bengtson’s virtuosity reveals all the evocative nuances in these scores.

Bednarz and Bengtson have produced a fascinating, expressive recording that will help to familiarize modern audiences with the Polish composer’s works.

(..Maria Nockin, Fanfare, Nov./Dec. issue, 2017)

Bengtson is a first-class musician who pays attention to niceties of style regardless of the composer being offered, and even Sviatoslav Richter played Szymanowski with a similar muscularity.

[In 20 Mazurkas] Bengtson maintained a true mazurka tempo ... I liked those, and the music for piano and violin, very much indeed, as much for Bednarz’s playing of the top line as for Bengtson’s accompaniments. These are first-rate performances of the music for violin and piano, moody and atmospheric in the soft passages, big-boned and dramatic in the more aggressive ones ... performances to be enjoyed over and over and over again.

(..Lynn René Bayley, New Recording of Szymanowski’s Violin and Piano Works, The Art Music Lounge, an Online Journal of Jazz and Classical Music, August 21, 2017)

Sample reviews of the complete Scriabin sonatas, Romeo 7232 and 7308:

    ... Bengtson is a Scriabinist for the 21st century, one who embraces the interpretive objectives most valued by his contemporaries among composers, theorists, and performers. .. Bengtson, who imitates no one, has synthesized the most persuasive elements that the best Scriabin interpreters - Fyodorova, Vedernikov, Zhukov, and Horowitz among them - have set forth over a century. To that end, he can now join those esteemed Scriabinists upon whom future generations can rely for definitive interpretations.    See the whole review
(.. John Bell Young, in Fanfare Magazine, July/August 2015 on the complete Scriabin Sonatas, Romeo 7232 and 7308)

    ... all of the acknowledged great pianists who have tackled these sonatas have their own take on them, ... and Matthew Bengtson can hold his own with any of them. .. an excellent set of the Scriabin sonatas, and I recommend it.
(.. Lynn René Bayley, in Fanfare magazine, July/August 2015 on the complete Scriabin Sonatas)

    ... The sheer color range - especially in the high-register trills and arabesques - of this rarely performed sonata warrants the price of admission.
.. Bengtson joins those Scriabin acolytes - Horowitz, Sofronitzky, Richter, Berman, Barere, Neuhaus - who relish the solipsistic mystic for his own audacious personality, his liberated subjectivity. We spend with Bengtson over an hour in a rarified labyrinth, infinitely and ineffably compelling. (.. Gary Lemco, in Audio Audition website (audaud.com, March 2015) on the complete Scriabin Sonatas)

Bengtson is a remarkable artist. ... Big-boned pianism, rich tonal colors, and dazzling technique are on display here. Has Scriabin ever been played better? Only Horowitz and Richter can compare to what Bengtson achieves on this disc.    See the whole review
(.. Lawrence Budmen, American Record Guide, July/August 2005 on Scriabin Sonatas recording, Romeo 7232)

    Selected reviews of the complete Scriabin Sonatas recordings.

Other highlights:

    ...the program’s musical high point was pianist Matthew Bengtson’s performance of Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4 in G. it was in very good hands Saturday evening.
    ...Matthew Bengtson is a musician’s pianist - the sort of performer who eschews theatrical showmanship in favor of giving his full attention to communicating a composer’s musical thought.
(.. Courtenay Cauble, The Ridgefield Press, February 13, 2003)

    ...[Bengtson] is certainly an artist to watch ... I have no qualms in recommending this CD to hear a new and interesting piano voice. ... Bengtson is one of those pianists whose technique, though considerable, is not of the type that draws attention to itself, but to the music.
(.. Lynn René Bayley, in Fanfare 34:5, May/June 2011)

    ...It has been six years since ARG critic Lawrence Budmen wondered where this wonderful surprise of a pianist came from .. I’ll second that notion! ... The rich multilayered sound to the Mendelssohn Variations ... puts this account of Op. 54 over all the others I’ve ever heard, including Brendel’s.
(.. Brent Auerbach, in American Record Guide)

Bengtson is both analytical and creative, a winning combination for any pianist; the two sides of his brain seem to be perfectly balanced. ... Bengtson is amazing.
(.. Susan L. Pena, Reading Times, May 14, 2006)

Press page

You can find radio and print media articles on my career from this page.

Sample radio interview, with Jim Cunningham on WQED-FM (Pittsburgh) about Scriabin in advance of a Pittsburgh recital.

Sample press article:

    ...Matthew Bengtson, whose devotion to the music of Scriabin is equaled only by his authority as a leading harpsichordist and fortepianist, has been turning the heads of both critics and the public. His recent recordings of the complete Scriabin sonatas emerged as if out of nowhere not only to unanimous critical acclaim, but to the astonishment of his colleagues as well. Devotees of the composer, both here and in Russia, have not heard this music played with comparable power and finesse since Vladimir Sofronitsky.    See the whole article

(.. from Celebrating the Scriabin Centennial with Pianist Matthew Bengtson, by John Bell Young, in Fanfare Magazine, July/August 2015)

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