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Lucas Debargue

With an outsider attitude, an unusual history, and a sometimes unconventional technique, pianist Lucas Debargue has attracted backing from various prestigious conductors in Russia, where he made a controversial showing at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2015 and beyond. He is also a composer. Debargue was born on October 23, 1990, in Paris but grew up in Villers-sur-Coudun near Compiègne in northern France. His father was a kinesiologist, and his mother was an operating room nurse. Debargue took up the piano at nine and was at first self-taught; he listened to recordings and learned to read music on his own. Later, he took lessons from a local teacher, but he gave up piano at 15, joined a rock band as a bassist, and began studying literature at Diderot University in Paris. He dropped out after six semesters, returned to the piano, worked as a jazz pianist at the Le Chat Noir club in Paris, and earned a degree in piano and chamber music from the Beauvais Conservatory. Debargue studied further with Rena Chereshevskaya at the Ruell-Malmaison Music School and the École Normale de Musique in Paris and with Jean-François Heisser at the Conservatoire de Paris, from which he received a diploma in 2015. His lessons with Cheresheveskaya were aimed specifically at preparing for the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition, where Debargue placed fourth. His ranking was attended by controversy, however. He won a special prize for creative vision and artistic freedom from the Moscow Music Critics Association, and several judges, including pianist Boris Berezovsky, distanced themselves from the jury's decision and argued that he should have ranked higher. Conductor Valery Gergiev, a festival patron, unconventionally invited Debargue to the winners' concert and booked the pianist for a series of concerts at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Those concerts led to further bookings for Debargue, at first in Russia and then internationally. He has appeared, among many other halls, at Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Philharmonie in Berlin, as well as at many French venues. Debargue's chamber music partners have included violinists Janine Jansen and Gidon Kremer and clarinetist Martin Fröst. In 2016, Debargue was signed to the Sony Classical label, where he has released six albums as of 2021, including a collection of 52 keyboard sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti in 2019. In 2021, with Kremer and his Kremerata Baltica ensemble (where Debargue holds the position of permanent guest artist), he released the album Zal: The Music of Miłosz Magin. Debargue's compositions include a Concertino for piano, string orchestra, and drums, which he premiered with Kremerata Baltica, a Quatuor Symphonique for piano quartet, and a Trio for piano, violin, and cello, which Debargue premiered in 2019 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
© James Manheim /TiVo
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