Nikolai Lugansky is one of Russia's major pianists, especially known for his performances of Romantic music. He has won several of Russia's major national artistic awards. Lugansky was born in Moscow on April 26, 1972. His parents were scientists, but when they heard their son play a Beethoven sonata by ear, they signed him up for lessons with their neighbor, composer/pianist Sergei Ipatov. Lugansky went on to the Moscow Central Music School and then the Moscow Conservatory, studying with Tatiana Kestner, Tatiana Nikolaeva, and Sergei Dorensky; the latter became a mentor through Lugansky's postgraduate studies. Major prizes launched Lugansky's performing career successfully; he won the All-Union Competition in Tbilisi, Georgia, and the silver medal at the International Bach Competition in Leipzig, East Germany in 1988. The breakup of the Soviet Union and the East Bloc proved propitious for Lugansky, who in 1992 won the Best Pianist Award at the Mozarteum International Summer Academy in Salzburg, Austria. He began to record for the Melodiya label and also for Vanguard. In 1994, he was the top finisher at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, taking a silver medal (no gold was awarded). Lugansky has appeared as a concerto soloist with major orchestras in both Russia and the West, collaborating with such conductors as Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, and Riccardo Chailly. An enthusiastic chamber music player, he has accompanied internationally renowned singers and instrumentalists, including Anna Netrebko, Yuri Bashmet, and Joshua Bell. Lugansky's recording catalog is large, encompassing releases on Challenge Classics, Naïve, Harmonia Mundi (with which he signed an exclusive contract in 2018), and many smaller labels. He has focused on core Russian repertory, especially Rachmaninov, as well as on the music of Chopin, but has also recorded works of Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, and many other 19th century composers, as well as appearing on recordings as an accompanist. In 2020, for Harmonia Mundi, he recorded an album of solo keyboard music by César Franck. Lugansky is on the piano faculty at the Moscow Conservatory. He was named a People's Artist of Russia in 2013 and received the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2019.
© James Manheim /TiVo
© James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released May 19, 2017 | naïve classique
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Though less well-known than his operas, his symphonies and concertos, Tchaikovsky’s piano music nonetheless contains at least essential works of his, i.e. the cycle The Seasons Op. 37b, and the Grand Sonata Op. 37. Composed at a period of crisis in the composer’s personal life, they illustrate two quite different aspects of his style: on the one hand we have the fashionable worldliness of The Seasons, pieces that almost belong to the genre of salon music; on the other hand, we see him ambitiously grappling with the large format of the classical sonata, in the tradition of his illustrious predecessors. Composed between December 1875 and May 1876, the cycle of The Seasons was written like some kind of musical calendar for the year 1876, to a commission by the publisher of the monthly review Le Nouvelliste, the idea being to issue a piano piece every month. Composed in 1878 when the classical sonata – which composers deemed to be too restrictive – was largely abandoned in favour of free-form pieces, Tchaikovsky’s Grand Sonata in G major upheld the ancient four-movement structure. The pianistic writing of the Grand Sonata conveys a sense of forceful power that seems to go beyond the tonal dimensions of the piano and conjure up the multiple sound resources of a symphony orchestra, as might be expected from someone of the composer’s power. In a letter to his younger brother, Tchaikovsky complained about the difficulties he faced in writing his sonata: “I'm working on a sonata for piano... [and its composition] does not come easily. I worked unsuccessfully, with little progress. I'm again having to force myself to work, without much enthusiasm. I can't understand why it should be the case that, in spite of so many favourable circumstances, I’m not in the mood for work. I'm having to squeeze out of myself weak and feeble ideas, and ruminate over each bar. But I keep at it, and hope that inspiration will suddenly strike.” Tchaikovsky isn’t particularly a piano composer; and the only recording of him that Nikolai Lugansky had made up till now was of the First Piano Concerto; even though the pianist had played several of his works for the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994. He has been described by Gramophone as ‘the most trailblazing and meteoric performer of all’ for his extraordinary depth and versatility. © SM/Qobuz