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<<  -- 3 --  John Bell Young    A MAJOR PIANIST EMERGES

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Underneath Lomov's modest façade, which to the ordinary man might appear glib, is one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Hearing him for the first time was an utter revelation. Here is an artist easily on the order of Sofronitsky or Richter, with a musical command that is at once larger than life and immensely authoritative. It is not only his imperial technique, impeccable taste and interpretive depth that single him out, but the character of his playing. Without exception, every musical composition the man touches turns to gold. A protégé of the Neuhaus and Feinberg traditions established in Russia early on in the 20th century, he attended the Moscow Conservatory, becoming part of that extraordinary breed of pianists that produced competition winners galore in the 1950s, but few artists of the exalted caliber that populated the generation that preceded him.

In the years before immigrating to America in 1990, Lomov dutifully towed the Soviet party line, as he had to, representing his country at the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels and at the Montreal International. He has performed with both the Moscow and Leningrad Philharmonics in their renowned concert halls, and by the time he was only 26, had won teaching appointments at the Leningrad, Kazan, and Kharkov conservatories.

And yet his name is absent from that standard reference of known Russian pianists, Grigoriev and Platek's Contemporary Pianists, which provides biographies of every significant Russian artist, and then some. Why? No doubt because Mr Lomov applied for and was granted immigrant status just as the Soviet Union was beginning to collapse in 1990. Evidently he was an artist who, caught between the cracks as much as officially dismissed, vanished without a trace.

We can be grateful that he has turned up at last in our country. To have access to his kind of glorious pianism is an invaluable asset, perhaps more so for us than it is for him. In Lomov's hands we find Chopin [listen -- Polonaise in A flat -- extract] of unfathomable tenderness, power, and understanding; Scriabin [listen -- Sonata No 3 -- extract] at its most audacious and colorful; Rachmaninoff of such tremendous sweep and heartbreaking pathos; Beethoven of incomparable vigor and fortitude; and Musorgsky that speaks with the authenticity of the native Russian born to borscht and black bread.

Nicolai Lomov gives a recital at Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, New York City, USA, on Saturday 29 October 2005, 8pm, playing Beethoven's 'Appasionata' Sonata, Schumann's 'Viennese Carnival' and Rachmaninov 'Moments Musicaux'
Nicolai Lomov gives a recital at Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, New York City, USA, on Saturday 29 October 2005, 8pm, playing Beethoven's 'Appasionata' Sonata, Schumann's 'Viennese Carnival' and Rachmaninov 'Moments Musicaux'

Lomov may be the only one of a now vanished generation, save for few others, such as Vladimir Viardo, who came along just after, and who can also be counted upon to illuminate their rich repertoire in such an idiosyncratic manner. Though Mr Lomov is now an adjunct professor at the New England Conservatory, that simply isn't good enough. His time has come. He has been lingering in the shadows for far too long. As my colleagues, both pianists and critics, and I agree, there is no time to waste merely talking about an artist of such ravishing power and substantive abilities. It's time to do something about it, and to put this sublime artist very much on the international cultural map [listen -- Liszt: Petrarch Sonnet No 104 -- conclusion].

Copyright © 2 October 2005 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA

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John Bell Young is a pianist and recording artist for Newport Classics, Sony Classical, and Americus Records, and a critic for the American Record Guide, Opera News, St Petersburg Times, Clavier and numerous other publications. He is currently on tour in Richard Strauss's melodrama Enoch Arden, with British actor Michael York.

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