Just had a lovely weekend with Nikita Lukinov in my home talking of many similar matters. I cannot understand how someone so dedicated and talented doesn’t win every competition he enters. He has phenomenal technique, beautiful interpretation and a kind soul. The Steinway sang like a canary under his fingers. He clearly loves the music he plays and communicates this to his audience. Our local music critic, who is old enough to have heard many of the classical piano greats, said he may run out of superlatives to describe his Schumann Symphonic Etudes and the Liszt Sonata. Somehow, what competition judges admire and what the listening public wants seem slightly at odds. I spent my life teaching medical students and young doctors and used to say that a good doctor is never satisfied with his work. Surgeons would say that they were only as good as their last operation. I think this also applies to brilliant artists. There is a modesty about them, and a ceaseless desire to improve their next performance.
A review and photos from 25/09/2022 Shrewsbury recital where I played Schumann Symphonic Etudes and Liszt B Minor Sonata.
A special gratitude to Dr Peter Barritt for making my profile more picturesque than usual!
A full review can be found here:
Went to hear Nikita Lukinov playing in Market Drayton Festival Hall last Sunday. Here is the review from John Hargreaves…
Market Drayton Festival Centre
Twenty-four-year-old pianist Nikita Lukinov brought star quality to the Festival Centre stage and gave a performance which was both a technical and emotional triumph.
It began with an unusual introduction, as Lukinov explained that his opening piece was described by Clara Schumann as ‘nothing but blind noise’. Lukinov looked nonplussed then added, “A top critic at the time said whoever has heard it and finds it beautiful is beyond help.” He held his palms out in entreaty and shrugged his shoulders. Then he sat down in front of the keys and played Liszt’s B minor Sonata, which has become one of the most popular works for the piano.
The sonata opened, as it ended, with a profoundly restful deep bass note. Lukinov commanded the audience’s attention and held it captive for the thirty minutes of compelling, impassioned, and yes, beautiful, music which filled the space between them.
His playing of this technically very challenging piece was riveting. He brought to it an overarching grace that subsumed the sense of wonder at how it was being achieved. He was there to take his audience on an emotional journey via a magnificent piece of music, and he did just that. It was thrilling and deeply affecting.
And that was by way of a warm-up, Lukinov half-joked as he introduced the second half of his programme. This was Robert Schumann’s series of Symphonic Etudes, played with no significant breaks, which were dedicated to Liszt and are widely considered to be one of the most difficult works for the piano.
Schumann was bipolar and described these ‘piano poems’ as reflecting opposite and complementary sides of his personality: one extrovert and excitable, the other more introverted, lyrical and melancholic. Lukinov called the five etudes apparently discarded by the composer initially “arguably the finest romantic music ever written.”
Nikita Lukinov with his partner, prize-winning novelist Anastasiia Sopikova
The more ‘introverted’ etudes evoked the richest feelings and thoughts, but seemed magnified by their juxtaposition with the dynamic outbursts. Lukinov made a beautiful whole of the differing passions, seeming transported by them as he played. His obvious love of the music was infectious.
It is rare for a classical music audience at the Festival Centre to show its appreciation by augmenting applause with the stomping of feet on the sounding-board-floor of the raked seating. Lukinov responded with a perfectly chosen encore: Tchaikovsky’s Meditation.
Great also to meet Anastasia, his girlfriend in the UK for two months.