Matthias Schrader/AP

His performance was a tribute to the Russian composer Rachmaninoff

February 23, 2014 01:45 PM

Sochi‘s closing ceremony referenced Russia’s proud history of composition by having piano virtuoso Denis Matsuev emerge from a cloud of smoke and blast through a Rachmaninov composition like he was playing Metallica.

It was amazing.

Matsuev was surrounded by a crowd of dancers in white wigs pushing pianos of their own, and his energetic, speedy rendition of Rachmaninov’s piano concerto No. 2 was an incredible display of virtuosity from the 38-year-old.

Pianist Denis Matsuev emerges from below the ground during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics
Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Matsuev won the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition when he was 23 years old. The New York Times once described his “pummeling pianism” as “pedal to the metal,” and his performance at the closing ceremony certainly felt pummeling.

Here’s Matsuev switching gears and playing some Duke Ellington.

Keep your eyes peeled for his showcase performance during the closing ceremony when it airs in primetime Sunday on NBC.

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