Dear fellow Valentina fans,
I think that over the years I have listened to pretty much everything that
Valentina Lisitsa has posted on youTube as well as the tracks and videos
on her website. At least once. And of course some many times. The other
day I happened upon a video that I somehow hadn't listened to before —
a performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Sonata No. 1.
Now I have to admit that I knew the Rachmaninoff sonata pretty much not
at all. And so far we have only gotten the first of the three movements
of the work. But given that Valentina is a Rach specialist, and given that
she hasn't posted any new videos, performance or otherwise, since last
February, and since the long anticipated release of her complete Rach-
maninoff concertos seems to be in some sort of perpetual limbo, and given
that her Romantic Classics album featuring her killer performance of the
Liszt Totentanz is nowhere to be found even a few months after its release —
sigh, I guess I will take what I can get.
Not that this isn't an incredible performance of a great sonata. In fact I
am sorry that I didn't run into it far earlier in life. And as I watched and
listened to the movement I wondered just how fast a pianist's hands have
to be moving to blur even on videotape.
The first three CDs Valentina Lisitsa put out many years ago are now all
out of print. Every once in a while I run into one used on Amazon, at a
very high price. And I'm not a person who has extra cash lying around
that I could spend at any one moment. Besides the early CDs, she did one
last year for the Naxos label called Romantic Classics. This album was
not available on the Naxos website even a few days after it was released.
A short while later I found it on the Naxos Ireland site. But, stupidly,
I figured I could wait a bit on it. If you snooze you lose. When I went
back to the site a month or so later it was no longer available there
either. Right now they list it on Amazon, but it is marked "sign up to be
notified when this album becomes available." Well of course I signed up.
What hardly makes any sense in this is that it is not even available for
MP3 download. I've run into a good number of albums that were no longer
available on disk but could at least be downloaded on MP3. Romantic
Classics is not one of them.
Then there are her three DVDs. I think that Valentina and her husband
Alexei more or less produce these recordings themselves. I have the two
first ones, the Chopin Etudes and the Schubert-Liszt Schwanengesang.
The third DVD, Black and Pink, is no longer available for some reason.
Valentina remarked that the reason that it was withdrawn was in part due
to the pink dress she wore for part of the performance and which she
evidently had second thoughts about. But you know, I can hardly believe
that. I think she was joking. It can not really be a matter of a stupid
dress. I wouldn't care if she were dressed like Marie Antoinette if she
would just do a couple more DVDs.
Supposedly there is a new CD coming out of the complete Rachmaninoff
piano concertos. That album was said to be coming out in 2010. But as of
the moment, July 2011, it is still not out. And nary a word on it. There
have also been rumors of a recording of Beethoven's "the 32." And on a
recent interview she dropped a hint that she might be doing the complete
piano works of Rachmaninoff.
I can no longer hold my breath for all of this to come about. It is exas-
perating. In fact I've become convinced that being a Lisitsa fan is perhaps
even worse than being a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. I always felt sorry for
those guys. Now I know how they feel.
I don't know what the problem is with all of this. It is just unfathomable
how so many different great soloists out there are happily recording various
works, while the world's greatest pianist — one of history's greatest pianists
— is barely represented. I wish Deutsche Grammophon would come to their
senses and realize that the best should record with the best. Given her
friendship with Hilary Hahn, a DG artist, I wonder why introductions have
not been made and a deal signed. But she would also fit in well with Decca,
I think, which is rather bold in featuring new young musicians such as Julia
Fischer. Just get something going, hopefully something solid, anything.
But I don't want to seem ungrateful either. Valentina has given us a great
deal already by way of many videos on youTube and a good number of tracks
on her website. For me, though, I hate having to go to my computer all the
time to listen to music. I would like something I could put on the stereo
— or at least a DVD. There are a good number of fine Chopin pieces in video
form on youTube, many of the Nocturnes, some Waltzes, and such. Why not
put all these together and issue another DVD? Well, just a suggestion. Throw
in another sigh.
Performances. She doesn't do all that many. Certainly enough to keep her
very busy I suppose, but it's not as if she comes my way too often. She
will be coming to Seattle with Hilary Hahn in October. Tickets go on sale
at the beginning of August and I hope to get mine. And, if they don't cancel,
I will see her perform once again.
So make these hills and valleys
Rejoice to the sound of your lyre.
Of course there's one thing that I should say in this too, in all fairness:
Perhaps she just doesn't choose to do all these things, maybe she is happy
and fulfilled with the way things are. In that case, of course, I would have
no choice but to accept her decision. One thing I have learned over the years
is to trust Valentina's judgement on things. And no matter how difficult it is,
I will continue to do so.
Forlorn in Spokane