Our Pianists - Goods for Export
Russia continues to supply the world with geniuses of pianism

From Wek.ru, November 1999,
Originally published in Russian
Written by Tamara Grum-Grzhimailo
Computer translation
Edited by Valour

"Russia - the birthplace of pianism": this truth was affirmed in the world's consciousness one hundred years ago, after the phenomena of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Horowitz. Even to the present day, it has not become an anachronism. 

Russia remains an inexhaustible supplier of young piano prodigies and mature geniuses of the piano. New proof this of will be seen during events this November in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory: the gala concert of the festival "New Century of Russian Pianism" and the solemn finale of the Second International Shostakovich Piano Competition for Children.

It so happens that tiny children, whose heads are barely visible above the piano lids, play magnificently the complex piano music of the 20th century.
The second prize winner of the competition (in the special category), Artem Shcherbakov from Ekaterinburg, played at the final concert of competition A. Khachaturyan's Sonatina with striking stylistic maturity. Darya Platonov from Ryazan (in the category for older candidates), performed a Toccata composed by himself, a work fully worthy of comparison with that of pianist-composer Prokofiev. And it is difficult to know, these days, where young pianists play the Shostakovich Preludes better: in St. Petersburg or Belgorod, in Kaliningrad or Orshe ? And where now dwell the stars of piano pedagogy: in Moscow, in 'To volgodonske' or in some unknown Ukrainian city, 'To neteshine' (which cannot even be found on a map)? The competition brought together musicians of 19 cities of Russia and CIS countries. Now the latest laureates are preparing for a performance tour of Berlin. 

Export: the export of young and not-so-young pianists! This is becoming an attractive form of commercial activity for many producers. Here in Moscow and also in Versailles, Paris, producer Igor Belyayev wreaks havoc in the 1999-2000 concert season with his festival, "New Century of Russian Pianism". What makes this festival so very patriotic is the gala concert featuring performances by seven (!) contemporary stars of pianism, all graduates and undergraduates of the Moscow schools.

There is no question that the precious legacies of Goldenweiser, Igumnov and Neuhaus were passed on to T. Nikolayeva, D. Bashkirov, N. Shtarkman, L. Naumov, S. Dorensky, M. Voskresensky and M. Pletnev. These pianists exhibited that particular mysterious blend of virtuosity and artistic values. So do we also have, in the new century, Rachmaninovs and Horowitzes ? 

In this case the talents were presented within a mixed bag ... 26-year old Aleksandr Melnikov's Schubert was rather disappointing, but he intrigued some listeners with his Richterian imperturbability; he cast a spell by virtue of his composure. But here is the sensation: a new Horowitz has been born! 22-year 
Alexander Ghindin, known to us mainly for his modest Fourth Prize at the Tenth Tchaikovsky Competition, now appeared before the Moscow audience as a finished artist. 32-year-old Vadim Rudenko and 28-year-old Sergey Tarasov (laureate of ten international competitions!) confirmed their high international rankings. Their performances were shining examples of Russian Romanticism. But the one who approaches the Rachmaninovian type of Russian pianist closest of all, with his luxurious sense of rhythm, barnstorming technique and infinite melodic lyricism, seems to be 27-year-old Nikolai Lugansky. His charming and substantial emotional world, thrown open to life, to nature, and to existence, discovers the finest, the noblest, the absolutely consummate artistic expression in sound images of rare beauty. He is a "singing pianist" - that priceless quality, a tradition so cherished by Russian performers. As Konstantin Igumnov once said, "Keys should not be struck, they should be caressed faster." Echoes of Rachmaninov live in Nikolai Lugansky.

In brief, those are our hopes. However, it is a pity, that in the repertoire of the "new stars of Russian pianism" there is so little Russian music! Have we actually been too successful with our export activity ? 


The Nikolai Lugansky Web Site