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Nikolai Lugansky: ‘Few things can help your morale as much as music’

Owen Mortimer

Path to light

2:06, 22nd April 2020

Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky introduces his recent online recitals of works by Beethoven and Franck

For me, these concerts were extremely important – maybe even the most important of the current season. I took them absolutely seriously. It is the first time I have ever performed in such an atmosphere. Of course, I had already made recordings without an audience and played dress rehearsals in an empty hall, but this was a little different. I found it revealing in every sense, combining the difficulties of a live concert and studio recording.

I believe I still met my audience via music, albeit not directly. It was certainly unusual to get up from the piano and not meet a spontaneous reaction from the hall. Only now have I realised that applause and shouts of ‘bravo’ mean a lot to me, and I miss them. I think for every artist it is a huge energy boost.

I have given two concerts online: one in the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory and another in the Tchaikovsky Hall. Both audiences were very large, possibly tens of thousands of people. In today’s world it is important for listeners to feel that they are hearing music being played live – especially now, when we are lacking events and public appearances.

In such a strange time it is important to look at the positives. I am happy about the ‘equation of rights’ for everyone around the world: finally, we are all existing in same cultural conditions. This union of residents in cities and small provincial towns is very important to me

Few things can help your morale as much as music. It always shares your joy and comforts you in grief. Nevertheless, I do not believe in ‘situational’ repertoire. The greatest music – by composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Franck, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev – can and should be performed in any situation.

Both of my online recital recitals include music by Beethoven and Franck. These composers powerfully embody the idea of a path to light. While for Franck this is a path through the hardships of temptation to enlightenment, for Beethoven it is a path through ordeals to victory. Beethoven`s Sonata No 30 and Frank`s Prélude, Aria et Final both give comfort and hope to the listener.

Listen on YouTube
moscons tv live | Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No 3 in E major Op 109
Franck: Prélude, Aria et Final Op 23

Moscow Philharmonic Armchair Concerts | Tchaikovsky Hall
Franck: Organ Chorale No 2 in B minor (transcr. Lugansky)
Beethoven: Appassionata Sonata in F minor Op 57

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