Moscow critics give their award to the last-placed pianist

Moscow critics give their award to the last-placed pianist


norman lebrecht

July 01, 2015

Many thought the French pianist Lucas Debargue was the brightest talent at the Tchaikovsky Competition.

But the piano jury placed him last.

The Moscow Music Critics Association decided this was an injustice.

They award a prize is ‘to the pianist whose performance at the Competition has become an event of genuine musical significance, and whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience.’

The Prize goes to Lucas Debargue, France. The association members are pleased to announce, that Lucas Debargue will be playing a solo recital at the Moscow Performing Arts Centre, in December 2015.




  • Boring Fileclerk says:

    The critics knew he was the better of the musicians on stage. They threw Debargue a token to absolve them of their guilt. No one will remember Dmitry Masleev five years from now and everyone knows this.

    • Branimir says:

      I don’t undestand, what exactly is supposed to be the critics’ guilt? And I agree totally with their choice.

  • Boring Fileclerk says:

    They gave Lucas Debargue a token prize to absolve themselves from their guilt. Debargue was the better musician all around and they knew this. The competition was a sham from the get go.

  • Martin says:

    As part of this price “Lucas Debargue will be playing a solo recital”

    And that is where he excels and will bring us much joy for many years.

    Concertos were part of the competition too tough and there he didn’t convince, not at actually.

  • piano man says:

    Talented but half-baked – his Tchaikovsky concerto was sub-standard, and the jury let him know it.

  • Martin says:

    And he wasn’t last placed. 6th in a very strong field of 32 pianists.

    • Boring Fileclerk says:

      I found his Liszt concerto to be rather astounding. His Tchaikovsky less so, but it was still good. The fact that he had no previous experience with an orchestra makes his accomplishments all the more staggering. One would think this would be taken into consideration. Either way, and despite the outcome, everyone agrees he has a bright future ahead of him.

      • Martin says:

        No previous experience? Really? Well then no wonder I came to the conclusion that concertos are not his thing, how could they be? 🙂
        Yes, we agree, he has a bright future. I am looking forward to hear more of him – and of many others in this competition, not only from the piano section.

  • Yuri says:

    This prize was well deserved. Lucas Debargue proved himself, in every round, to be a great musician first and a great pianist second. That’s why he didn’t win either the First, Second, or Third Prize. The Tchaikovsky Competition judges pianism first and sadly puts musicality second. Indeed, the First Prize winner, Dmitty Masleev, has stronger finger technique, more perfect and effortless double octaves, faster and cleaner runs, etc. The problem is that he didn’t once touch my heart, nor communicate to my soul. Lucas Debargue did that on multiple occasions. The competition may have discerned its First Prize to a great pianist, but certainly not to a great musician. I will make a prediction that in teny Ears nobody will remember Dmitry Masleev, except an inner circle, but Lucas Debargue will go very far as a suburb musician and an extremely gifted pianist. Does anybody agree with me?

    • Robert says:

      Thank you, I think that is a very insightful and helpful explanation. I had less problem with Lucas’ technique, but perhaps you have a better eye for this. Did you mean “superb”, rather than “suburb” musician? In any case, I’m glad he got the recognition from Moscow critics and I agree he will be the one to watch.

      As to the Tchaikovsky concerto, when will more people play the version that Tchaikovsky himself knew? It seems the alterations are common knowledge now, and this could have been a good opportunity to play it as intended by the composer and re-introduce it to the public at the competition.

    • Branimir says:


    • Rebecca says:

      Well said! Bravo!

    • Andrea says:

      of course we all are (ehm… at least I am) agree.The best moment were beethoven sonata and scarbo, in my opinion.

    • Lena McGinnis says:

      I completely agree with you.
      Lucas is a musician, artist, poet at the piano, then pianist. Fire, passion I have not heard in a long long time
      Dmitry Masleev is a fine pianist, does not have what Lucas has.
      Glad Lucas received 4th prize, better for him, too much pressure for the winner. Lucas still has a couple of years of technical work to be done. Conductor Gergiev took him under his wing, they played in Beijing, Carnegie Hall and the UK.
      Liszt 2nd and Tchaikovky were very good, I have compared quite a few pianists including Matsuev playing Liszt 2nd, Lucas performance was by far the best!!
      He will be great, his teacher will make sure of it.
      Hopefully someone very wealthy will donate a Steinway grand and an apartment, he deserves it.
      Beethoven quote ” mistakes are insignificant, to play without passion is inexcusable!!!”

  • Boring Fileclerk says:

    *Outstanding* , not astounding….

  • Andrey says:

    His First round was just breathtaking… Absolutely extraordinary.
    I look forward to working with him as soon as possible, and introducing him to the audience in Brussels, Naples, and/or cities. But even more I would love to be the listener of his full recital. Doesn’t matter what he will program .

  • Liszt Franz says:

    Hi everyone. I am French, so I supported Lucas Debargue…And I also found that Geogre Li was really good. Has anyone seen his performance of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody n°2 ? It was really amazing of virtuosity. First, I thought that such a piano piece was not that good for this competition, as it is tto brilliant and not “real music” enough. But then, I realized it was also a good way to prove his level of virtuosity.
    Concerning Masleev, he did not particularly make an effect on me. And if everybody speaks about Debargue, maybe he has an opportunity to have a contract with DG or DECCA, who knows ?
    In such competitions, record companies do not necessarily want the winner, but the one who is more popular.
    Two examples :
    1) In 1980, Chopin Competition : everybody knows now Pogorelich, who was not even in the finale round, whereas the winner, Dang Thai Son, is virtually unknown (even if he plays very well) (and even if I do not agree with Pogorelich’s nowadays’ style).
    2) In 2010, last Chopin Competition : everybody knows now Daniil Trifonov, even if he was not the winner (3rd prize, I think). The winner, Avdeeva, is not that known, and has no contract with any famous record company.
    Conclusion : Debargue has still a great opportunity to become a great pianist 🙂

  • Zheng Hu says:

    This is Tchaikovsky competition. Tchaikovsky is a musician first, a technician second. Debargue gives his power of finger technique where music and our heart require, not just plays to the ear of the jury. He is a musician first and he deserves the gold!

  • Karen says:

    Yulianna Avdeeva is doing VERY, VERY well and has been highly successful. You should check her extremely busy jam-packed concert schedules around the world and the excellent reviews before speaking like this about her.
    She is represented by some extremely high profile management companies globally including CAMI (Columbia Artists Management Inc.) which also represents the great masters such as Pollini, Menahem Pressler, Nelson Freire, Olga Kern, Denis Matsuev, Alexander Toradze etc.. I believe she has just finished touring with Gidon Kremer & the XII Kremerata Baltica Festival. There has been several superb recordings and CDs already, including one with Frans Brüggen & Orchestra of the 18th Century, and a solo album which has received glowing reviews featuring works by Chopin, Schubert, and Prokofiev.

  • Liszt Franz says:

    I am not writing that Avdeeva has no career. But that she is not the real winner pianist of the Competition.
    You cannot compare Trifonov, who has a DG exclusive contract and who is asked every week all over the world, with Avdeeva, who is under Mirare and has not the same reputation. It does not mean she is a bad pianist. It would be like comparing Pogorelich and Dang Thai Son, even if Dang Thai Son, as I have written, is a very good pianist.

    • Liszt Franz says:

      PS : I would not put Pollini and Freire together with Olga Kern for example…It is the same problem : you have on one hand fabulous pianists who are masters and others who play well but who are not legends. Being a piano legend/star is now very complicated…Trifonov is the new Kissin. Very few pianists have created such an enthousiasm.

  • Gary says:

    This is absolutely subjective statement (No one will remember Dmitry Masleev). It is unethical and unintelligent. Who are you-the God? – to know what will be tomorrow..Even though I agree Debargue was very, very good. Well….exactly to his place.

  • Liszt Franz says:

    A little question : where have you seen that I wrote “nobody will remember of Masleev” ? You should read better my comment instead of writing it is unintelligent…

  • Gilles B says:

    Hello from France to everyone. I was especially amazed also by Lucas Debargue, especially his interpretations of Mozart 24th concerto, Beethoven Sonata, Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, and Liszt’s 2nd concerto.
    I do not believe concertos are not his thing; it is not because he had no big experience with playing with an orchestra, that he was bad at it; on the contrary, he was sometimes playing so much together with them, that it seemed there was just one orchestra.
    But the first concerto of Tchaikovsky is such a monument of classical music, that the more mature interpretation of Martha Argerich and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in 1975, with Charles Dutoit as a conductor, impressed me a bit more.
    All this being said, I do not deny at all the great talent of the 1st, 2nd and 3d Prize winners. But it is true the fabulous sense of music of Lucas, together wih his fabulous ability to reach such a level in just a few years, were astounding and deservingly well received by the Public and the Critics.

  • Lubov Bresler says:

    Lubob B. says
    My reply is a little retarded:October 2, 2017. Luca Debargue is already great pianist an a renowned star. The Ravel concerto and especiatty second Procofieff with Mariinsky orchestre under Gergiev on September 30, which I attended were tremendously good. I just hope the Mariinsky label has recordedthe performance.