Incredibly, despite several solo recordings dedicated to Russian composers, this new recording is award-winning artist Nikolai Lugansky’s first Tchaikovsky recital on record. Though less well-known than his operas or his orchestral compositions, Tchaikovsky’s piano music nonetheless contains essential works, such as the 'The Seasons' cycle and the 'Grand Sonata', featured here. Composed at a period of crisis in the composer‘s personal life, they illustrate two quite different aspects of his style: on the one hand we have the fashionable worldliness of 'The Seasons', pieces that almost belong to the genre of salon music; on the other, we see him ambitiously grappling with the classical sonata, in the tradition of his illustrious predecessors, Liszt, Schumann, Chopin.
For Nikolai Lugansky, whom Gramophone has called “‘the most trailblazing and meteoric performer of all”, this recording is like “having a new encounter with Tchaikovsky, almost like falling in love with someone new…ever since the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1994 I haven’t played any of the pieces that I performed back then – apart from the Concertos. Nearly all the solo works I played in the Competition, including the Grand Sonata, had dropped out of my repertoire – I don’t know why. With The Seasons, it’s the same thing: I’d studied four of the twelve Seasons – it’s very rewarding music to play. And what’s surprising is that these two works are both from his Opus 37; they were composed during the same period.”