Monday, October 21, 2013

Valentina Lisitsa: New Career Paths

The Washington Post has a nice story up about Valentina Lisitsa, the Ukrainian-born pianist resident in North Carolina. Here is her story in a nutshell:
The three-minute video of Rachmaninoff’s Etude Op. 39 No. 6, or “Little Red Riding Hood,” went viral, despite the piece’s relative obscurity. Following its success, Lisitsa posted videos of herself playing Liszt and Tchaikovsky. Her first-past-the-post strategy of flooding YouTube with videos of the repertoire paid off, yielding more than 60 million views and 100,000 YouTube subscribers. Fame ultimately translated into album deals — “Valentina Lisitsa Plays Liszt” is her newest — and a global touring schedule that was scheduled to bring her to the Library of Congress last Thursday, a visit that was canceled because of the government shutdown.
I have posted about Valentina Lisitsa before, here and here. What I notice about her is not so much her marketing strategy, successful though it may be, nor her appearance, despite a remarkably bizarre comment on one of my posts, but her very compelling musicianship. She talks about the hosts of conservatory pianists that come out every year. But what I hear in her playing is how very convincing a musician she is. I am afraid that all too many of those young virtuosi are mere note-spinners with great publicity shots. Valentina Lisitsa is another kind of musician entirely. Here she is playing a waltz by Chopin. Listen to how beautifully every phrase is shaped and to the fluidity of the rhythm:

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