Valentina Lisitsa is one of a growing number of artists whose career has been boosted by concert postings on YouTube. After initial success, much of it in performances of duo-piano repertory with her husband Alexei Kuznetsoff, Lisitsa found her career stagnating by the early years of the new century. But following her cyber postings, she has made numerous high-profile concert appearances (many with violinist Hilary Hahn), recorded several highly successful CDs and DVDs, and appeared on a PBS special, Valentina in Miami, and on the CBS television program Sunday Morning. Lisitsa plays a vast range of repertory, from Mozart, Beethoven and Liszt to Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and contemporary composers. Her duo repertory is nearly as broad, but includes heavy portions of Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. Lisitsa has recorded for Naxos, Audiofon, and on her on label Valal Productions. Valentina Lisitsa was born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1973. She began piano lessons at three and gave her debut recital at four. Her first advanced studies were at the Kiev-based Lysenko School of Music. She later studied piano at the Kiev Conservatory under Ludmilla Tsvierko. Lisitsa met her future husband there and soon the two began appearing in duo piano concerts. In 1991 they won the Murray Dranoff Two Piano Competition in Miami, FL. That same year they relocated to the U.S., eventually settling in North Carolina. In 1995 they debuted in New York at the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, with conductor Gerard Schwarz. Lisitsa was now in demand, both as a soloist and duo pianist. She soon began making recordings: her debut album, Valentina, was a collection on Audiofon of works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and others. She and her husband launched a series of duo recordings on the same label the following year with a CD of works by Rachmaninov and Shostakovich. By 2005 Lisitsa's concert engagements had slowed to a trickle, but she quickly recaptured name recognition with her numerous YouTube postings, which drew hundreds of thousands of viewings. She also further advanced her career with several concert tours in the U.S. and Europe with Hilary Hahn, beginning in 2007. Lisitsa's first recording on Naxos, a CD of works by Beethoven, Schumann, Thalberg, and Liszt, was issued in fall 2010. Her 2010-2011 concert schedule included appearances with the West Virgina, Santa Rosa, and North Carolina symphony orchestras, as well as more tours with Hahn.
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Classical - Released January 1, 2014 | Decca
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Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa has taken an unusual path toward career development: she posted her Chopin performances to YouTube, gained a strong following there, and then hired the London Symphony Orchestra for a set of Rachmaninov concerto performances. The gambit seems to be working: Lisitsa's performances of late Romantic repertoire have been reasonably well received, and now she's earned the right to implement what one imagines was the point of the whole exercise in the first place: the pursuit of the crossover audience centered above all in Britain. There is no denying that Chasing Pianos works well. British composer Michael Nyman has made a long specialty out of minimalist music that shades in the direction of melodic pop. Although Nyman has stated that opera is his favored genre, the style is ideally suited to film scores, and his music for The Piano (1993) is a classic of the genre. That score, adapted for solo piano, is heavily featured here, along with music from other scores that is artfully chosen to give just enough contrast to avoid sheer repetitiveness without disturbing the basic calm surface. Lisitsa's style, flawlessly precise and slightly mechanical, fits this music in a rather eerie way, and fans of Nyman's music will doubtless find a fresh and exciting take on it here. Those coming to the music from the film The Piano or from one of the other soundtracks represented should also be pleased. The sound, from the concert hall at Britain's Wyastone Estate, is unusually well suited to the project: dreamy and soft without being overly gauzy. ~ James Manheim
Classical - Released January 1, 2013 | Decca
Classical - Released January 1, 2012 | Decca
Having won a receptive audience by posting videos on YouTube, pianist Valentina Lisitsa has taken the next logical steps for a self-promoting star: booking the Royal Albert Hall for a solo recital of pieces by Rachmaninov, Liszt, Chopin, Beethoven, and Scriabin, and getting Decca to record it. Naturally, Rachmaninov's Etude-Tableau, "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf," is included, because Lisitsa's video performance of this piece started her rise to fame, and it was a clever idea to make listeners associate a particularly flashy and fun piece with her style of playing. Lisitsa is a dynamic performer who plays with great speed and volatility, rather in the manner of Martha Argerich, and her interpretations are full of teasing rubato, hectic attacks, and surging and diminishing dynamics, all characteristic of the Romantic individualism that is Lisitsa's strong suit. She is at her best in short but loud character pieces that require a show of force, and less impressive in softer pieces where her lack of sublety is more apparent. The inclusion of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata was a mistake because it reveals her limitations in handling Classical style and a two-dimensional understanding of Beethoven's expressions, resulting in a fairly mechanical performance. Even so, Lisitsa is an entertainer, rather than an aesthete, and her showmanship dominates this album so much that to expect anything else is pointless. Decca's sound is big and expansive, so the piano isn't lost in the Royal Albert Hall's space, but its presence isn't immediate.
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