on October 13, 2000
Where did he come from?! One of the best Etudes preformances I'd ever listened to. For Lugansky the technical difficulties don't seem to exist. His reading is poeticly sensitive (listen to op.10 no.3 and op.25 no.7). Though Pollini is every bit as brilliant technicaly,he doesn't have the inner fire that Lugansky has. You can feel the explotions and the inner fire coming out (op.25 no.11).
As much respect as I have for Pollini and Ashkenazy, Piano playing in the last decade has been (in MY opinion) conquered by young russian pianists (Demidenko,Berezovsky and Volodos).Their advantage is the fact that they are not afraid of expressing themselves,and that they get full support from their recording companies. We need new heros in the piano playing Pantheon, and if these pianists are an example of what we are heading to - this should be a great century for the piano.
By the way the recording quality is top notch.
on July 1, 2002
Recently i got a hold of this recording more out of curiosity than with a favorable impression of Lugansky (previously i had been quite dissapointed by his rachmaninov preludes and moments musicaux recordings which to me seemed to lack in spirit and strength). But, having heard quite favorable comments of this recording, in spite of my initial reaction to his playing i went ahead and put this on my stereo.
This time I am quite impressed - favorably. Lugansky recognizes the virtuosic character of these works and his technique is always more than suited for this display, and then he treats every work with care and attention and delivers them splendidly. To be honest, it is unfair to compare this performance with the likes of cherkassky, berezovsky, pollini, freire, as each sizes these works in their own unique way. What is interesting is that Lugansky delivers a performance that can be spoken of in the same breadth as the these by other pianists who may be the top choices for the chopin etudes.
Lugansky plays with a degree of clarity and articulation that almost reminds of mozart rather than chopin, but in doing so is able to expose these works open and show details that most of the time go unnoticed. This is indeed a revelatory performance - one that hopefully will be a distinct prelude to a superb career.
Warning: Nikolai Lugansky can be habit forming! Having been favorably impressed with his recordings of Rachmaninov brought me to this recoding of the Chopin Études. While there are many pianists able to convey the poetry inherent in Chopin's works, few are able to match the sheer virtuosity of this magic-fingered Lugansky. His technique is simply astonishing and he is able to traverse Chopin's diabolically difficult passages a though they were simple nursery rhymes.
While some my quibble that Lugansky elects keyboard facility over drama, those listeners need to spend more time with his style. Entirely in keeping with the Romantic period of pianism, Lugansky plays all the notes correctly but infuses his passages of liquid speed with artful phrasing. There is all the poetry others have achieved but with seemingly less work: it just flows out of the music with ease. This is a pianist whose career, though firmly established, is destined to flourish. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, September 05
This disc, very well recorded in 1999, has garnered many appreciative reviews from a wide range of critical opinion.
Lugansky has a level of technical accomplishment that makes the technical challenged of this music less of a problem than might apply for others. In particular, he is blessed with an unusually wide hand-span that may be a further help, such as in in his Rachmaninov playing. This allows him to achieve greater clarity by not having to use the sustaining pedal to help cover wide gaps.
Lugansky thus brings great technical proficiency to his interpretations that are notably lyrical in style. In this respect he is far closer to Perahia in approach than to Ashkenazy for example who is more percussive in his dramatic style. Both Perahia and Lugansky see these works in a warmer light that the somewhat cooler Rubinstein and the much cooler Pollini. Comparisons such as these are not intended to be anything other than pointers to an approach of course. All these pianists offer pianism of supreme quality and collectors of multiple versions will be aware of this.
However, for those interested in a single 'only' purchase I would suggest that either Perahia or Lugansky offer an unusual level of satisfaction by blending a high degree of technical wizardry with a warmly lyrical concept musically. I would not wish to be without either, but pushed to a final choice, I might well opt for this disc by Lugansky.
on September 7, 2015
Nikolai Lugansky, aged 27 when this recording was made in 1999, gives us a promising and generally pretty good set of Fredric Chopin’s magnificent Etudes, including the Op. 10 and 25 sets as well as the three Nouvelles Etudes written later on in 1839. Lugansky is a somewhat emotionally restrained performer but he is a musical one. Technically, he is strong without being outstanding, at least among the current field of pianists, many of whom are dazzling in this area.
Some of Luganski’s best playing comes in the two first etudes of the Op. 25 set. In the “Aeolian Harp” op. 25/1 etude, he shows real feeling in presenting the luxuriant melody. The turning triplets that make up the foundation of the Op. 25/2 are done with delicacy and a sense of rhythmic nuance that is wonderful. I enjoyed Luganski’s playing of the three nouvelles etudes and think it is one of the better portions of this release. In the amazing first etude, Luganski very affectingly presents the main melody’s cresting to the high C-flat that marks this compact piece’s highest point in the register. In the Op. 10 set, the main section of Etude 9 possesses a well-presented forward momentum with the transition into the brooding contrasting sections paced perfectly.
But quite a few of the etudes don’t have the emotional power I have heard in alternative performances. Op. 25/4 is played by the numbers with the sense of tragic momentum I hear in this étude absent. The Op. 10/2 etude lacks the élan and sense of momentum it can bring. I also found Luganski’s version of the big 25/7 étude pedestrian; Luganski has a leaden unengaged feel in this etude, a centerpiece of the set. The desolate Op. 10/6 etude is presented nicely but the poetic conclusion can be more emotional and overwrought than Luganski’s staid conception shows.
I made a comment about Luganski’s technique earlier. He is a strong pianist but not a perfect one, at least here in this Chopin. For example, both Op. 10/4 and 10/5 etudes shows a lack of tightness between the faster passagework and the accompanying chords. In Op. 10/4, the passagework and chords are presented in alternation in the right and left hands; in Op. 10/5, the chords are restricted to the left hand. Now anyone who can play these etudes professionally is a very good technician – they are hard – but the issue is that stronger technical alternatives exist (see Maurizio Pollini’s famous set). Recorded sound is very good.
You get the idea of my reaction. This is a promising and accomplished recording from a young pianist who has no doubt developed greatly since setting down these sessions. It’s good and enjoyable but lacks emotional impact in etudes scattered throughout the disc, so it varies between the good and the very good. I recommend alternatives such as the Pollini I mention above and the older and very different recording from Shura Cherkassky. Four stars.
on December 10, 2007
When it comes to Chopin Etudes, I have always been a Pollini fan. I was skeptical that any other pianist could even approach his standard. But having purchased this CD, I will admit to being thoroughly impressed. Lugansky's technique is second to none, but he always puts musicality first. Though some listeners may take issue with some of Lugansky's expressive nuances, this is without doubt a historic recording, well worth adding to your collection. No serious student of the Chopin Etudes should go without this superb CD.
on March 17, 2012
This 1999 recording, which I am just getting acquainted with, is in a class all of of its own, pace the tepid review here by one J Grabowski. Of so many Chopin Etudes of my estimation, Backhaus, Cortot, Arrau, and Pollini (I couldn't warm up to Freddy Kempf's), Lugansky's rises to the very top and remains safely in place. The recorded sound is outstanding but more importantly is the quality of the musicianship and the playing. This is a revelation of a record, deserving wider recognition and circulation.
I am adding my praise to this CD some years after its release because it has just been rereleased in a 9CD set of Lugansky's playing at a ridiculously low price: Nikolai Lugansky. The new set contains music by Beethoven -- searing accounts of the 'Appassionata' and 'Moonlight', and others -- as well as all the Rachmaninov concertos (including the Paganini Variations) plus the Preludes and the Corelli and Chopin Variations. And for lagniappe there are two Prokofiev sonatas (Nos. 4 & 6) and the Romeo and Juliet piano pieces. And then there are the Chopin and Rachmaninov cello sonatas. A brilliant collection of Lugansky's playing for a pittance.
on September 23, 2013
Great technique, which suits the more aggressive etudes. However some of the more lyrical pieces are a little heavy handed.
on March 16, 2014
only gave it 4 stars because of the quality of the recording. My remastered recordings Rubenstein from the 60's blow this away