Lukas Debargue, piano

Run to hear Pianist, Lucas Debargue!

A rising young pianist who placed 4th in the grueling 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition, but earned special RECOGNITION by the Moscow Music Critics Association, scored a unanimous victory on stage at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall. (February 12th, 2017 at 3 p.m.)


Without question, the 27-year-old French pianist, Lucas Debargue made an indelible impression on members of a full-house audience that included a diverse community of Classical music lovers.

Moscow Conservatory grads, local and international music teachers, piano students, and a stash of pianoforte mavens rose to their feet at the program’s conclusion, applauding for long intervals with interspersed “Bravo’s,” forming a loud choir of approval.

It was a visceral response to music-making that rose above the instrument, elevating itself to cosmic proportion. The pianist became a vehicle for the transmission of the composer’s ideals in his nuanced mosaic of impeccably sensitive phrasing that encompassed a diverse palette of tonal expression and colors.

In a journey through varied historical periods (Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist and Romantic Expressionist), Debargue’s expressive poetry synchronized beautifully with what belonged to each era. He possessed tonal flexibility; a repository of articulated and seamless legato, and sonorous chords that never slipped into offensively percussive attacks. In summary, he produced beautiful passage work, liquid trills, shimmering glissandi, and a wide dynamic range that served the highest musical ends. It was as if Debargue had carefully crafted various dialects of a common musical language to unify his program.

In essence, the pianist’s imagination had free-reign while it respectfully adhered to the composer’s intention in phrase peaks to climax and soulfully rendered resolutions.

As one concertgoer put it who stood on a long post-recital reception line: Lucas Debargue became a “co-creator” as he channeled the works of Domenico Scarlatti, Frederic Chopin, Maurice Ravel and Medtner. (The commentator turned out to be a Moscow Conservatory grad, married to a winner of a distinguished Piano Competition.)


Following the maestro’s remarkable display of virtuosity wedded to pure poetry, I had quickly joined a stream of audience members who had poured into the artist reception area and had immediately shared their unabashed enthusiasm for the performance. Naturally, with a blog in gestation, quickened by my intensified excitement, I broke out the iPhone and filmed the pianist during his reflective moments. At one point he talked about how a composition must “mature” and ripen in the course of YEARS, echoing the inspired words of his beloved Russian teacher, *Rena Shereshevskaia.

I was so “overwhelmed” by the whole panorama of events that streamed out of an awe-inspiring concert, that my adult student who’d joined me for the occasion, preserved a safe distance from me– promising to come forth at the right moment to snap of few photos of her teacher in the presence of musical royalty.


And so the icing on the cake amounted to a gush of praise that did not falter. Candidly, I confessed that I’d heard Gilels, Richter and Ashkenazy as a child growing up in New York, but that Debargue’s playing by far, had moved me the most.


So, Run, Run, Run to hear Lucas Debargue by first checking his website for a list of his scheduled recital appearances.

IMPORTANT LINK (From the blog “Slipped Disc”)
“The French pianist who caused a sensation at the Tchaikovsky Competition has given his first in-depth interview to Bertrand Boissard, at Parlons Piano.

*”Among other topics, he discusses his Russian teacher Rena Shereshevskaia; his two years working at a supermarket till, his preference for learning Prokofiev by ear and his favorite pianists of all time, singling out among French artists the little-known Marcelle Meyer.”

Read the full, in-depth interview here.
Ismene Brown has generously created an English translation:

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Pianist, Martha Argerich waxes poetic about her career, old age, and more

I was entranced by an interview conducted with Maestra Argerich on the eve of the 2009 Nobel Prize ceremonies in Stockholm. She was to give a concert, playing the Ravel piano concerto, but graciously paused to share her deepest thoughts and musings about music, life, communication, getting old and more.

The interviewer was on the spot, I thought, having to feed the pianist questions that were worth her time and effort–though Argerich was artful enough to steer the repartee in her preferred direction.

A good example of her flight of fancy produced her registered enthusiasm about an impassioned cause.

She voiced “interest” in housing for “oldie” musicians in the mold of Casa Verdi in Milano. (A short film, gives a tour without narration. The visuals tell all. A long list of engraved benefactors, includes Luciano Pavarotti)

Visiting Casa Verdi

Argerich is aware of her mortality, not having to underscore the precise word, but her impromptu comments about aging made an impression.

“I am thinking all the time about “oldie” people, like myself….I want to create a place, like a musical club–for retired people who are lonely.”

The conversation could have drifted in this direction for hours, if uninterrupted.

The interviewer was in tempo.

On being amidst intellectual giants in Stockholm?

Argerich beamed in her reply.

“It’s interesting to have inspiration from others.. Communication (not invasion) is essential to life.” (the missing last word, “Right?” was registered rhetorically in her facial expression) She’s conspicuously reflective, then animated, always bristling with passion.

Practicing. Does she like it?

“I don’t like the thought of it, but once I’m doing it, I like it.”

And what is that mounted miniature statue that sits on her prized grand piano?

The early inquiry seemed frivolous.

Perhaps the interviewer had expected an answer that justified her curiosity.

Argerich reluctantly responded, revealing a “Japanese Buddhist priest,” permanently affixed—maybe, yes, it was a “a good luck charm” (in French, “porte-bonheur”) but who really cared. Let’s move on.

The awkwardness of dwelling on the figure was apparent. The pianist’s mind was churning with more inspired thought and ideas.

The conversation shifted to the middle movement of the Ravel concerto.

In this musical cosmos, Maestra refused to confirm having one fixed “feeling” about it. (as the questioner expected)

With each performance she experienced a new and different enlightenment. And in her refreshing candor she admitted to being nonplussed at times about the whole undertaking.

Through less than 6 minutes of interview time, one gleaned that Martha Argerich is a free spirit, ever evolving and growing in unique directions–Perhaps a classic throwback to another century.

But don’t try to pin her down to most of anything, si vous plait.

Finally, here’s the long-awaited You Tube video exchange for high points I might have missed. (Note additional posted interviews with Martha that are worth sampling)

One of my favorite Argerich snatches from the Verbier Music Festival