A whole orchestra at his fingertips

From Altamusica.com , 12 February 2001
Written by Gerard Mannoni
Translated from the original French by Valour

Nikolai Lugansky was one of the heroes of the recent  "Crazy Days of Nantes" festival. After a remarkable disc devoted to the Chopin Etudes , the young Russian pianist confirms his phonographic verve with Rachmaninov.

Preludes - Moments musicaux
Sergei Rachmaninov
Prélude op.3 n°2- 10 Préludes op.23- 6 Moments musicaux op.16
Nikolai Lugansky, piano
1 CD Erato 8573-85770-2 DDD

Following his triumphs on several occasions in recital in France, notably in Paris, Nikolai Lugansky has become all the rage in our pianistic world. Along with  Evgeny Kissin and Boris Berezovsky, he incontestably represents the elite of the Russian School, approaching thirty and thus at full maturity. 

Was Kissin, an international prodigy at a very young age , surely too young ? While the two others, even though they were also at their keyboards at the age of five, have had careers with a less bustling development and above all, less mediatized.  Three completely different temperaments, however -  Kissin being the most inspired and the most unpredicatable, Berezovsky the most virtuosic in the great Lisztian tradition and Lugansky the most romantic and the most poetic.

This Rachmaninov disc arrives to confirm a startling technique founded upon a very profound relationship with the keyboard, which permits him to exercise the most beautiful orchestral-sounding piano there could be ; this is precisely what suits these pages in the tradition direct from Liszt. Now Rachmaninov is still a necessary evil as far as we are concerned : one considers his music with a certain condescension and his excess of lyricism is shocking, as is that of Tschaikovsky, such that these two composers are among the favourites of Anglo-Saxons.

Under the fingers of Lugansky, however, these surges of notes are charged throughout with an interior reflection which neither compromises the generous lyricism of the writing nor its vast moments of dreaminess. This is not a Rachmaninov "for effect" to which most pianists have conditioned us, but a great Post-Romantic virtuoso himself, endowed with a very thorough instrumental knowledge which is also one of the incomparable weapons of Lugansky.


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