Are these two Russians the next Richter and Gilels?

Are these two Russians the next Richter and Gilels?


norman lebrecht

December 14, 2015

The parallel occurred while writing my Album of the Week for

In the 2015 shoot-out between the Tchaikovsky and Chopin piano competitions, Warsaw won hands down. Its Korean gold medallist Seong-Jin Cho quickly captured the world’s attention with the fastest-selling DG piano debut in a decade and all-night queues at record outlets in Seoul and elsewhere.

Moscow’s winner, the pallid Dmitry Masleev, has vanished into media oblivion, but two of his runner-ups, both named Luke, are doing rather well….

Read on here.

214376_Daniel-Trifonov-300x210 vslukas geniusas


  • Holger H. says:

    This is all incredibly stupid and actually damaging to music. The idea that music is about “shootouts”. That an emerging artist should be measured as a clone of a former artist, a “the next N.N.”
    Obviously sane minds understand without any difficulty, that Music is about collaboration and social interaction, about symbiosis, about love, rather than about competition, winning and imitating the image of dead famous artists.
    Just like real nature is mostly about symbiosis, collaboration and peaceful coexistence, and only about to a small percentage about competition, destruction of enemies and winning.

  • Marcato Sempre says:

    Seon-Jin Cho did NOT capture the world’s attention: He captured KOREA’s attention (hardly the music world’s epicenter), and his DGG album isn’t selling wildly outside of Korea. As for “pallid” Masleev, no argument there. BTW, Geniusas won 2nd prize in Warsaw in 2010, after which nothing much happened with him. You neglected to mention that 19 year old George Li, who tied with Geniusas for 2nd prize in Moscow, has become a favorite of Gergiev, who in the past few months has featured him as his soloist for his concerts in the UK, China, Russia, Finland, etc. George Li has been signed for worldwide management by Intermusica. Gergiev knows quality when he hears it, and the World will be hearing much more from George Li in years to come. No disrespect intended to Masleev or Geniusas, but they pale in comparison to Li.

    • Nick says:

      Re Marcato Sempre’s comment “Seon-Jin Cho did NOT capture the world’s attention: He captured KOREA’s attention (hardly the music world’s epicenter), and his DGG album isn’t selling wildly outside of Korea.”

      So? What’s the point? This blog frequently issues updates on sales of the top classical album in the USA. Most often the weekly number is under 500 – repeat 500!. And you think DGG will be unhappy that sales of Cho Seong-jin’s album were 50,000 in the first week and are now close to 100,000 in Korea? And you think that music administrators in Korea are unhappy that his success has led to a general increase in ticket sales for classical concerts in Korea?

      Asia is one continent where audiences for classical music are growing exponentially. And they are mostly young people. There is no need to patronise Korea!

    • Olassus says:

      I wonder if George Li will do a Yundi and drop the family name.

      “Our soloist in today’s program by the Boston Symphony Orchestrahh, playing Rachmaninoff’s Concerto in D Minor, is George.”

  • Jeffrey Biegel says:

    There will not be a next Gilels. The world was quite different when he drew his sound from the piano. Having said that, there are many fine young talents who grace the keyboard, which is always good for keeping beautiful music heard.

  • Olga says:

    Trifonov – may be
    Geniusas – no way 😉
    Not to forget very exciting George Li
    And, by the way, I think Masleev is great 🙂

  • Anon says:

    I think comparing musicians from the armchair – academic or private, doesn’t matter – is the last refuge of the musically impotent.

    • Ray Richardson says:

      With you there Anon, whoever you are!, I often knock the Lebrechts of this world, but you won’t often catch me criticising musicians.

  • esfir ross says:

    Not Seon-Jin Cho, Daniil Trifonov,George Li, Lukas Debargue’re next big thing.
    In my opinion: Benjamin Grosvenor, Behzod Abduraimov, Xavier Perianes..
    Those 3 they didn’t participate in major competition but have a major careers.

  • someone says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht,

    There were no all-night queues at any record shops in Korea.
    In my previous comment to another posting, I explained what actually happened.
    People pre-ordered and have mostly bought it on the Internet.

    All of Seong-Jin’s concerts and recitals have been completely packed and extremely well received in Warsaw, Katowice, Birmingham, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Shanghai, Chongqing and Beijing.

    He’s going back to Poland soon for a Christmas concert and will start next year’s schedule in Amsterdam by giving a recital, which is completely sold out as well.
    Unfortunately for Korean music lovers, he doesn’t have many concerts in Korea next year, but just a few.
    He’ll mostly be in Europe and America and Japan.

    And it is expected that he is going to play on tour with the Russian National Orchestra and Mikhail Pletnev again soon, as far as I remember what I’ve read in the articles.
    The classical music agency CAMI has asked Warsaw Phil to bring Seong-Jin as a soloist for the US tour next year so maybe American audiences will be hearing him soon.
    He’ll be playing in Prague, Italia as well and London of course in March.
    He is already planning schedule for 2017, said Seong-Jin, but hasn’t confirmed summer festival appearances yet according to the articles.

    Anyway, he’ll be very busy, but he said he wouldn’t like to have too many concerts for a year.
    For next year’s schedule, which is already over 60, he had to take a year off from school.
    He’s still a student at the Conservatoire de Paris and it seems that he wants to continue his study there as possible as he can.

    God bless him!
    And God bless all the musicians who deserve!
    I wish you a very happy Christmas time!

    • someone says:

      I’ve read another interesting story that Maestro Valery Gergiev talked about and praised Seong-Jin once again at an event at a primary school in London in October this year, right after the Chopin Competition.

      Mr Gergiev got to know Seong-Jin when hearing him playing in Tokyo in 2011 and helped him to enter the Tchaikovsky Competition.
      At that time, Seong-Jin wasn’t able to enter the Tchaikovsky as he was under 18, but Mr Gergiev called the office and lowered the age limit to 16.

      Seong-Jin and his Korean teacher didn’t even know why exactly the age limit was suddenly changed, but was anyway very happy and then he could enter and won 3rd prize there.

      I’ve found an article in English about this.

      “I was shocked to hear Cho play in Tokyo last year, so I encouraged him to take part in the International Tchaikovsky Competition. But he said he was still too young to compete,” he said. “I immediately called the competition organizers and told them to change the age requirement.”

      “Gergiev demanded the organizers make an exception. “When Russian pianist Gregory Sokolov won the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1966, he was only 16. What’s important is music, not age,” he said.”

      If anyone wants to see more, please click the links below and read my comments.

      I’ve just written what I’ve read in articles, so if you want to be sure whether it is true or not, you should ask Mr Gergiev directly.
      I think he’ll be delighted, as he seems to be always very supportive of promising young artists regardless of age or nationality.

      I’m really grateful to such great musicians helping talented young artists, and then audiences can have more choices of musicians to hear.

      • someone says:

        I’m sorry, Mr Lebrecht, It happened again.

        When I posted the first comment on this page, it was fine and I experienced no problems at all, but when I did the second one, it didn’t show up.

        I refreshed this page many times and deleted all the cookies as well.
        I even turned off my computer and checked on my mobile phone too, but it was the same, it didn’t show up.
        So I re-posted exactly the same one again and then it show that.
        “Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!”
        So I made a little difference by deleting ‘P.S.’ only, and now, the two have come out.

        Is it possibly because I put some links to other web pages?
        But it was absolutely fine when posting some of the previous comments with links.

        I’m so sorry to bother you with the same problem again.
        If you don’t mind, please delete anything you like (basically, the two replies are exactly the same) and this too.

        Many thanks again.

  • Jean Dupont says:

    Funny to read the comments down there, as for me Geniusas is by far the best pianist of this generation. Trifonov’s manierism is pretty annoying, he sounds like he constantly wants to prove everyone he really is the genius people say he is, forgetting the pieces themselves and using them to exhibit everything he can do with a keyboard. George Li’s sound is brilliant, but his renditions often boring and without tension imo.