Nikolai Lugansky recital

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COMPOSERS: Janacek,Liszt,Prokofiev,Rachmaninov & Chopin
LABELS: Medici Arts
WORKS: Works by Janácek, Prokofiev, Liszt, Rachmaninov & Chopin
PERFORMER: Nikolai Lugansky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3078658 (NTSC system; PCM stereo; 16:9 picture format)


There are those who find Nikolai Lugansky’s interpretations remote and even soulless.

I’ve never been one of them and now, being able to watch Lugansky in action at close quarters, it’s good to confirm that he’s simply keeping emotion under tight control – glancing heavenwards for the deepest inspirations, as if to conjure more vertical space of his playing, sitting upright at the piano and never lathering unduly (though he does break a sweat in the summer environs of Verbier).

What impressed me most was the finish – in other words, the unostentatious beginnings and perfectly judged conclusions. Chords are perfectly placed at the becalmed ending of Janácek’s questing Sonata – not quite ruined by a spectator’s cough, a spellbinding slow fade to Prokofiev’s music for Juliet’s death-simulating potion, and no hanging about for false effect in the closing bars of Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnet 123.

The articulation, even detractors must admit, is breathtaking: such clarity for the turns of Prokofiev’s ‘Masks’, such speed so well caught by the camerawork on fingers and blue-tinged keys in Liszt’s ‘Feux follets’, such strength in the cascades of No. 10 and the glitter of Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 No. 8.


The encores, admittedly, are a bit encorey and the presentation, unusually for Medici Arts, very minimalist. It shears applause between numbers, offers no extras and no booklet information on the repertoire. Lugansky would do better by the ‘Portrait – Concert – Interview’ format of Legato’s revelatory pianist series. David Nice