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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Solo Piano - Released February 16, 2018 | harmonia mundi
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Unfortunately no, dear reader, there is no such thing as a cycle of “24 Preludes” by Rachmaninoff; however there are indeed 24 Preludes: a collection of ten Op. 23 from 1903, 13 other Op. 32 from 1910 and one isolated Prelude from the Morceaux de fantaisie Op. 3 (Fantasy Pieces) from 1893. In total: 24 Preludes, in which as a simple count shows Rachmaninoff − much like Chopin and of course Bach − illustrated all major and minor tones. Deliberately random, or the involuntary drive to create a reasonably coherent cycle? Contrary to his two illustrious predecessors, Rachmaninoff didn’t order his Preludes according to a specific tonal plan: the musician’s fantasy develops bit by bit. Nikolai Lugansky – described by the famous magazine Gramophone as “the most innovative and transcendent interpreter of all” (so much for the others…), truly an extraordinarily deep and polyvalent pianist – decided to present the Preludes in the order prescribed by partitions, rather than reorganising them according to some hypothetical tonal logic, without knowing if Rachmaninoff would even have recommended or even considered it, particularly as the constant alternation of moods, independently of any tonal consideration, gives the piece a sense of perfect coherence. Finally it’s worth mentioning that Lugansky offers a very “original” interpretation of this divine music, which may feel like a re-discovery to some listeners. © SM/Qobuz