Meet Russia’s answer to Yuja Wang

Meet Lola Astanova.

 

She’s 32 and, according to her publicists, she is ‘redefining classical music’.

How, exactly?

Lola tells Sputnik International: ‘I want my outfits to look vivid and organic because it is a part of my presentation.  For the people in the audience the concert is a special event, the event they have been waiting for and paid good money to attend, so the last thing they want to see is some messy figure that just rolled out of bed, and came to the stage to mechanically run through a bunch of notes.’

Oh, and she has interesting friends.

Now that’s what we call redifining classical music.

photo: Lucien Capehart Photography.

N.B. She can play.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • In the review of her Carnegie Hall recital in January 2012, Zachary Woolfe effectively killed any of her aspirations (if she ever had them) to be taken seriously:

    Air Kisses, Spike Heels and Ample Rubato (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/21/arts/music/lola-astanova-in-horowitz-tribute-at-carnegie-hall-review.html)

    “But until the depth of her performances consistently matches their technical assurance, Ms. Astanova will be best known for her extramusical attributes. Chopin should gleam more brightly than Tiffany diamonds.”

    And having Donald Trump as the chairman of the gala that featured her debut didn’t help either:

    “Bling! Vavoom! Celebrities! A Concert, Too” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/arts/music/lola-astanova-julie-andrews-and-donald-trump-at-carnegie.html)

    • I feel sorry for you, my dear Gent from the Midwest, as there isn’t any YW of the clarinet or oboe or recorder yet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have two lingerie eye candies playing Brahms Op 120 for you?

      P.S. Perhaps a few music conservatories shall start recruiting the models from Victoria’s (Not-So-)Secret catalog. There seems to be a market for such, no?

  • There was a time when it was about music… not about the way you looked like or dressed in the concert night.
    Not about how much you moved around the piano, but what actually came out of it…
    Are we doing music for the sake of music, or for getting famous?

    • It’s on us to choose where we focus our attention.

      While the press and blogs like this often (but not always) focus more on looks, there is no shortage of younger musicians who are all about music, like Kirill Gerstein or Alisa Weilerstein.

      Krystian Zimerman recently made a memorable recording of Schubert’s last two sonatas, and didn’t appear in tanktops to promote it.

      I don’t think we’ll see any “lifestyle” video clip of Grigory Sokolov any time soon.

      Kiril Petrenko seems equally versed at profound interpretations and skipping all the bull**.

      • “There is no shortage of younger musicians who are all about music, like Kirill Gerstein or Alisa Weilerstein. ”

        It’s a pity that good intentions (or pretenses) are no guarantee against mediocre playing.

  • Especially her description of what she thinks is the ‘regular pianist’ deserves scrutiny:

    ‘……. some messy figure that just rolled out of bed, and came to the stage to mechanically run through a bunch of notes.’

    I try to figure who this might be. Pollini? Hamelin?

    But surely she could never beat the pianists who REALLY combine a spellbinding presentation with captivating content:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zYxYPv12mA

    • MONTANEZ ORTIZ is obviously a great artist but he does resemble a messy figure that just crawled out of bed… or doesn’t he?

      • “She is talking about Martha Argerich I think…”

        Perhaps you could say that of Martha Agerich now that she is 76 years old. But when she was of an age comparable to Lola Astanova, Agerich was generally thought to be a world class beauty. Astanova is physically attractive, to be sure, but if you walk across the average college campus you can find hundreds, if not thousands, of women who are better looking. The main source of her attractiveness while playing the piano is the short skirt. Actually, I just looked at a recent picture of Martha Agerich and I think she’s still better looking than Lola Astanova (though she wouldn’t look better in the short skirt).

        With respect to piano ability Lola Astanova is an outstanding pianist with talent that many piano students would kill for. But, in my humble opinion, if we make a basketball analogy, Astanova would be more like a very good NBA player. Compared to the average athlete such a player is a marvel and a superstar. But in that comparison, Yuja Wang is like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. And Martha Agerich is more like Michael Jordan.

        But I accept that fact that others think differently than I.

    • I once went to a piano destruction concert. At the end we all applauded and
      called for an encore.

      But there was nothing left to play.

  • Whats if some old conductor (or The wife) accuses her of sexual harassment?
    And if they get a “Wagner’s death” …?

  • Oh for fox sake Norman! Why on earth do you have to PR her on your blog?! Everybody happily forgot about her existence, and all of a sudden “BAM!” here she is, right on the first page. And for what reason may I ask, a new album release, Grammy nomination? Nah, her site doesn’t even have a calendar of upcoming performances. Russia’s answer to Yuja Wang? Please…give us a break.
    Are you accepting “donations” for this type of PR?

      • In the post Levine era, as some people suggest describing these morbidly erotic days, Lola Astanova will for sure intimidate more than one conductor for both her musical and extra-musical talent. I had the pleasure of accompanying her on several occasions in a most varied repertoire, from Rachmaninov to Mozart, from Gershwin to Astanova herself, since on top of everything else she’s also a composer. In spite of her beauty and seductive élan, her musical strength overpowers everything else.
        In many ways, whether some like it or not, she’s indeed “redefining classical music” in what to expect from a soloist. I have seldom met someone who is as comfortable as she is in both the classical and the pop world, and showing total control.

        • Maestro Marturet, Rusanda Panfili is a similar artist but on the violin. She can play Brahms and Mozart concertos one day then turn around and do a pops concert featuring Piazzolla, the Beatles, etc. the next. As Isaac Stern said many years ago (after he was accused of muting the careers of artists he didn’t like) “Nobody can stop talent. It will reach the top regardless.”

          • Thank you Jaime, I will certainly look her up.
            You’ve made my day! For once this is the kind of synergy we should be having on behalf of “classical” music and the upcoming generation.
            God bless all the positive thinkers of this world…!!!

    • In the post Levine era, as some people suggest describing these morbidly erotic days, Lola Astanova will for sure intimidate more than one conductor for both her musical and extra-musical talent. I had the pleasure of accompanying her on several occasions in a most varied repertoire, from Rachmaninov to Mozart, from Gershwin to Astanova herself, since on top of everything else she’s also a composer. In spite of her beauty and seductive élan, her musical strength overpowers everything else.
      In many ways, whether some like it or not, she’s indeed “redefining classical music” in what to expect from a soloist. I have seldom met someone who is as comfortable as she is on both the classical and the pop world, and showing total control.

    • Lola has 283,000 Instagram followers, Yuja has 52,600 Instagram followers. Whether you like her playing or not, IMHO, Lola right now is doing more for classical music with her clips on that site, than Yuja. She really does not need extra publicity, she does it herself. By the way her latest clips with cellist Stjepan Hauser, an it cellist of the moment is brilliant cross promotion. I rest my case.

  • Promised myself I’d never again engage in one of these pointless discussions but I did a little research and it turns out that They (whoever They are, I have no comment on that), are already here, they move among us.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-Wgb7sJEls

    No wonder Sokolov can barely crawl out of bed and is a messy creature. Who will notice his male beauty now? On top of that our Presdt Trump seems to be involved in this, and Putin too.

    I can only say that Yuja who I’ve always defended, if with appropriate reserve, comes last in this link. Wait for her.

  • Damn, Trump’s tiny hand is all over her. He seemed happier than a child in a toy store, grabbing everything within reach. Where’s Melania?

  • Who exactly is her target audience?

    Old men who fancy themselves too cultured to go to Hooters, but not too self-conscious as to go see her wiggle her booty playing Rachmaninoff?

    Does she book private concerts by the hour?

    I once attended a 75th birthday party of a wealthy patron who engaged Migenes (when she was the latest it-girl for Carmen) to sing La Habanera seductively to him. I felt deeply, DEEPLY embarrassed for Migenes.

  • But Yuja really plays. When I first saw Lola, I thought she’s a student. Her playing is very plain, unnuanced… Just mediocre.

  • “and came to the stage to mechanically run through a bunch of notes” That is precisely how her playing sounds like.

  • The difference is that Yuja (except on rare occasions to please a rip-roaring US audience) has not sold out. And the awful pity is that Lola Astanova can, on her day, play very well indeed. But crossover is not a way to tempt fresh audiences into your latest recording of Scriabin, and it has never been. Crossover is kitsch, which bewilders or alienates your most loyal fans. It’s like those ageing actresses who used to try and rejuvenate their careers by posing for Playboy. Nobody thinks, “Goodness! What a shame she won’t tackle Ibsen!” Everybody just yawns, “Oh yeah? So what’s she up to this time?”

    Looking gorgeous on stage is fine: few people now remember Eileen Joyce, a phenomenally gifted pianist around WWII, and her innumerable changes of costume. But Lola’s career is fast becoming as rhinestone as her outfits; and that’s both a shame and our loss.

  • >