Label news: Sony signs cool hands Luke

Label news: Sony signs cool hands Luke


norman lebrecht

December 17, 2015

This has been in the works ever since Lucas Debargue signed with the talent warehouse, Cami, and I think we may have reported it before. But from today it’s official: Lucas Debargue, star  (and loser) of the Tchaikovsky Competition, joins Lang Lang and Igor Levit as a Sony artist.

Press release:




Sony Classical is proud to announce the signing of twenty-five year old French pianist Lucas Debargue, the most talked-about artist of the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition.

As soon as Debargue began to play in the early rounds of the event (routinely hailed as one of the world’s foremost piano competitions), an extraordinary buzz of excitement began to develop around him. By the finals, it had crescendoed into a roar – and not just for his intense, muscular, intellectual playing, or his lyrical phrasing, but because his journey to reach that point had been so unusual.

His unique background was reflected in a paradoxical result. ‘The real winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition is the man who came last,’ said The Spectator. But although he was placed fourth in the final, his remarkable talent was recognised with the award of the Moscow Music Critics’ Association to ‘the pianist whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience.’

It is all the more amazing in light of his unusual history. Debargue did not touch a piano until he was 11 and then taught himself by ‘tinkering’. At 17 he dropped the instrument completely in favour of the bass guitar. He then began a literature degree and only took the instrument up again at 20 when a friend, who remembered his playing, invited him to perform at the Fête de la musique at Debargue’s hometown.

His playing was so powerful that he was put in touch with the celebrated Russian piano teacher, Rena Shereshevskaya, at the prestigious École Normale Alfred Cortot in Paris. At the age of 24, he dazzled audiences and critics alike with his unique talent at the Tchaikovsky Competition.

Ismene Brown in The Telegraph praised his ‘artistry, originality and technical brilliance’ and went on to say that he was ‘miraculous… His absorbing concentration on sound rather than technique contrasted him immediately with the more virtuosic pianists around.’ In The Spectator Damian Thompson hailed his ‘outstanding performance… Perhaps it’s his intellect. He ‘argues’ the music with a confidence worthy of Richter.’

Debargue’s highly-anticipated debut recording, set for release in March 2016, will include works by Domenico Scarlatti; Chopin’s sublime Ballade No 4; Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz; and Ravel’s demandingGaspard de la nuit (his performance of which in Round 2 of the competition caused a sensation).

Critics and live audiences have already fallen under Debargue’s spell. Now lovers of recorded music will be able to experience the magic of this extraordinary young musician too.



  • John says:

    Very interesting. Considering the praise given to Debargue’s solo recital (but, notably, not his concerto), I await to see what is released.

    The combination of Igor Levit and Lang Lang is fascinating. Levit’s most recent recordings have been released to huge acclaim and he is, perhaps, one of the most promising pianists of his generation. Lang Lang is anything but this. With a few exceptions, his appeal is limited to those more casual lovers of music.

    • Geoff R says:

      I did read that he had never played a concerto with an orchestra prior to the TCH15, sounds very strange, but one never knows. I have listened to his playing in the competition it was astounding. Hope he enjoys working with Sony.

  • Eddie Mars says:

    Congratulations – if this is really what he wants?! Once you sign with Sony they tell you what colour socks you can wear :((

  • Marcato Sempre says:

    The Sony catalogue is a graveyard of 7-day wonders who were signed & then dumped, and Dubargue is on course to be their next victim. CAMI & Sony are rushing to make a quick buck on this half-baked talent, and they’ll soon run him into the ground.

  • Geoff R says:

    He is young and I am sure that Sony will squeeze him for all he is worth. Hope he survives and goes on to greater things.

  • Alvaro says:

    TWO CD’s…..max.

  • debussyste says:

    I am very excited by all this. Debargue is, for me, THE great pianist of the futur with Trifonov. He will stand beside Richter, Guilels, Cortot, I have no doubts about that. He will make Lang Lang and some others “celebrities” fall into just oblivion.

  • Marina says:

    Russian listeners were charmed by Lyuka Debarg.His performances gatherd many people in Moskow,Samara, Katharineburg,Kostroma, Irkutsk,Khantymansiysk,Yaroslavl.They were very great! We are looking forward for Lyuka Debarg,s Cds. How could we get (buy) them?

  • Linda Litwack says:

    Looking forward to his Toronto concert with fellow Tchaikovsky Competition winner Lukas Geniušas on April 30. Details at

  • Larissa says:

    I heard game of the Hatch. It bewitches, arrests and doesn’t release any more. There is a wish to listen and listen, and listen !!! Always!

    • Sandy says:

      another one! who on earth is Hatch? and what his game is to do with the subject?
      if you are both from the russian audience, it seems rather crazy then

  • Marina says:

    Russian listeners were charmed by Lyuka Debarg. His performances gatherd many people in Moskow, Samara, Katharineburg, Kostroma, Irkutsk, Khantymansiysk, Yaroslavl, St. Petersburg! They were very great! We are looking forward to Lyuka Debarg,s Cds. How could we get (buy) them?