“The only authority that exists for a conductor is the music itself,” says Tugan Sokhiev. As the conductor, who comes from North Ossetia once revealed in an interview for the Digital Concert Hall, he feels that he is first and foremost a medium through which the music speaks to the orchestra and the audience. What fascinated him most about conducting as a youngster was the fact that one person could have an influence on so many musicians – a realisation that prompted him to pursue a career as a conductor himself. As luck would have it, he was able to study with Ilya Musin, the legendary founder of the Russian school of conducting. He was also a student of Yuri Temirkanov. In 2000, he won the main prize at the third International Prokofiev Competition and subsequently embarked on a career that has taken him to many international opera houses and concert halls. Tugan Sokhiev, who was artistic director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin from 2012 to 2016, has been head of the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse since 2008 and music director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre since 2014. Through these two roles, he has internalised both the Russian and the Western, especially the French, musical traditions. He has repeatedly demonstrated this inspired synthesis in his programmes with the Berliner Philharmoniker, who he has worked with on a regular basis since his debut in 2010 and who he appreciates for their profound, rich and powerful sound. His recipe for success: “It’s important to rehearse the right passages so that the orchestra feels confident to play quite freely in the concert.”
Nikolai Lugansky has a special connection with Sergei Rachmaninoff. The pianist says that he is his idol and is, in his opinion, one of the most Russian composers of all, because the melodies of the folk songs and the sacred music of Russia decisively shape his tonal language. As a native of Moscow, he is considered a specialist in the piano works of Rachmaninoff, despite the fact that he has mastered almost the entire repertoire of his instrument, from Bach to contemporary music. Nikolai Lugansky discovered the piano at the age of five after hearing a piano sonata by Beethoven and simply trying to play the minuet on his parents’ instrument. In addition to his musical talent, he has the gift of being able to assimilate a work in a very short time. For example, Nikolai Lugansky learned Rachmaninoff’s enormously difficult Third Piano Concerto in just three days when he was 18. He trained under Tatjana Kestner, Sergej Dorensky and Tatjana Nikolajewa, a pupil of Alexander Goldenweiser, who was a friend of Rachmaninoff. In 1994, Lugansky won the famous Tchaikovsky Competition, an event that launched his international career and brought him invitations to the leading orchestras and the major concert halls and festivals. His powerful, vivid playing and interpretative finesse make the musician, who was named “People’s Artist of Russia” in 2013, one of the leading pianists of our time. Under the baton of Tugan Sokhiev, Nikolai Lugansky, who is passionate about chess in his spare time, made his debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 2016 – with a work by Sergei Rachmaninoff, of course.