Lisitsa: Where There’s Hype There’s Fire

There’s not much more to tell you about a Ukrainian-born pianist named Valentina Lisitsa. The Wall Street Journal has christened her the Justin Bieber of classical piano. Most pop stars could learn a thing or two from her about social media. A few years ago, she mortgaged her house to raise enough money to hire the London Symphony Orchestra to accompany her in the Rachmaninoff piano concertos, and chronicled the whole process on YouTube. There are 231 videos (one is featured here) on her channel which have been watched more than 55 million times. She built such a following that a major label signed her and just released the Rachmaninoff recordings.

Sometimes, happily, where there’s hype there’s fire.

“In everything she does, there seems to be a special combination of utterly self-assured virtuosity and real lyricism and communication too, far removed from the prestidigitatory typewriters that many of today’s pianists have become,” Tom Service of The Guardian wrote in 2012. There is no shortage of talented interpreters of Rachmaninoff’s beloved concertos, starting with recordings featuring the composer himself, but this one seems well worth having in the collection. “I find this the most compelling full set of Rachmaninoff concertos since Vladimir Ashkenazy’s with André Previn 40 years ago, a recording that perfectly captures its moment,” says Norman Lebrecht, writing on the UK’s Sinfini site.

Follow Lisitsa on Twitter (and watch how a virtuosa tweets).

Get Lisitsa’s album on Amazon. | Listen to the album on Spotify.
Get the Previn/Ashkenazy version too.