Lucas Debargue: An exclusive interview

Lucas Debargue: An exclusive interview


norman lebrecht

July 07, 2015

Very few western journalists were invited to the 15th Tchaikovsky Competition, a symptom of troubled times. Among those who got in was the Spectator’s Russian-speaking ballet critic, Ismene Brown.

Ismene, a terrific journalist, made a beeline for the brilliant Lucas Debargue and discovered that he spoke English – self-taught, of course, like playing the piano. He said, he learned it by reading Joyce’s Ulysses….

He told me that he was quite happy playing jazz eight hours a day to earn the money for his classical studies. His finger technique, honed in jazz, is so odd, so individual, that an eminent Russian piano teacher actually walked out of his Tchaikovsky concerto.

Read Ismene’s full report here.



  • Petros LInardos says:

    Let’s us hope that Lucas Debargue will be able to develop his notable talent away from the limelight and all the nonsense from the press.

    I’d be inclined to take some of the article’s statements with a grain of salt. For instance, anyone who has learned a foreign language knows that one cannot learn it by reading an exceptionally difficult novel. Reading does wonders, but it doesn’t prepare you to speak fluently. I can’t help thinking that the article is misrepresenting him in this and many other points.

    • Hilary says:

      True….this detail of the interview stretches credibility and doesn’t inspire much confidence in the rest.
      Either inaccurate journalism or some kind of self-mythologising going on.
      I liked Lucas Debargue’s rendition of Bach WTC book2 /eflat major. Once he actually started (somewhat mannered pause before he touched the keys) he held my attention. I’m going to explore further.

    • Ismene Brown says:

      Debargue’s teacher gave a fascinating interview in Russia during the comp, which I have now translated on my blog. It answers some of the questions that are troubling the super-rational. Re his language skills (he is not super-fluent, but he can certainly express himself), all I did was report his answer, as I did his self-description as ‘self-taught’. The teacher’s interview, you will see, supports it all. No misrepresentation by me.

      • Julie says:

        Thank you for the translation. Interesting read! I did find it a bit amusing that so much of what she said was about herself and how she made him so good.

    • GONZALEZ says:

      I concur with you.

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Very few western journalists were invited?… Well the first four paragraph of the Spectator “interview” amounting to a third of the paper may help explain why… Fortunately jury member Peter Donahoe set the record straight.