Promusica "discovers" Russian composer Alexander Scriabin
From El Mundo, 28 November 1999 Written by Ana Maria Davila Translated from the original Spanish by Concepcion Diaz Edited by Valour
BARCELONA - At twenty-seven, Nikolai Lugansky is considered one of the best pianists of his generation.
This is evidenced by the Terence Judd Award, and the first place obtained the previous year at one of the
most prestigious international musical forums, the Tchaikovsky Competition of Moscow.
And yet this young musician, undoubtedly destined to become one of the great figures of the twenty-first
century, prefers not enter into these sorts of valuations. For him the important thing is continuing a tradition,
not fighting to surpass the standards established by the great pianists of the twentieth century.
"You must go on, even if others had done better. The key is in going on, as when you consider having children."
Tonight, together with the Russian National Orchestra under the direction of Mikhail Pletnev, Lugansky will
take charge of the practically unknown Piano Concerto of Alexander Scriabin.
"Scriabin is not very well-known outside Russia, and this concerto is even less well-known. To tell the truth,
there are very few pianists who have it in their repertories. Ashkenazy is one of the few who plays it." explained
the musician during a break in his rehearsal.
According to Lugansky, the Piano Concerto is a composition of a markedly “romantic” temperament, with a
“very Russian” sound, but greatly influenced by the work of Chopin at the same time. "Scriabin composed the
theme when he was 14, and finished it at 24. Because of this, it is a somewhat naive composition, which
reflects the thinking of a young man and is not free of technical difficulties".
To Lugansky, whose brief but wide-ranging trajectory has placed him in contact with all the great Russian conductors,
working with Mikhail Pletnev is a great pleasure. Especially considering the fact that Pletnev is himself an
"With Pletnev you play wonderfully, not only because he is a pianist. That is just an additional element." says the
musician, who resorts to the conductor’s own words to expand his argument. "Pletnev always says that when he
must conduct he places himself at the service of the pianist, but when he is the soloist, he then asks the conductor to
follow him. He means that the conductor must always follow the musician, without trying to impose his own ideas".
From Bach to Granados
With a repertoire that extends from Bach to Granados, Lugansky does not accept the view that nowadays, among
the younger musicians, technique predominates over the quality of interpretation.
"That can't be true." he argues. "Interpretive problems are always evidence of a technical problem. The truth is that
there are very few people who can play really well, and it so happens that when an interpreter is not up to the level of the piece, he changes things and corrupts the music. Then the critics say they are technically perfect but the interpretation is bad. And that is not the truth”, says the musician, who has just finished recording the Chopin Etudes.
Lugansky considers himself a conservative, being faithful to practices and customs currently threatened by
technological change ("It is always better seeing people than communicating through the internet.") and he still
believes in the necessity of going to concert halls to enjoy music. “A CD only captures a very concrete instant of
an interpretation but the music of every afternoon and every moment is unique and cannot be repeated. That is
the true magic of it."