The noisiest pianist on earth?

The noisiest pianist on earth?


norman lebrecht

November 02, 2018

We read that Arcadi Volodos played his latest recital at the Vienna Konzerthaus under the English slogan, ‘Be prepared for big sound’.

Is he challenging anyone to a bash?



  • Caravaggio says:

    Suppose Volodos is now in competition with Denis Matsuev for loudest and coarser. If I were AV’s agent I’d quickly advise him against it.

  • Quintus Beckmesser says:

    I could name a few “banger pianists” but Volodos certainly isn’t one of them – there is a difference between ‘big sound’ and noise.

    • Novagerio says:

      Agree totally. Volodos has a big sound like Richter and Gilels once had. Matsuev is a “banger”. Big big difference (!)

      • Vladimir says:

        True. And Matsuev “cheats” by leaving out lots of notes, eliminating octaves, to sound louder and faster. It’s anti-artistry.

      • David K. Nelson says:

        Remember the brief re-emergence of Ervin Nyiregyhazi? Not just a banger. Bangers and mash. But fascinating and sad.

  • QPRB says:

    If Google translate can be trusted, the headline translates to either “Be prepared for a mighty sound!” or “Be prepared for a powerful sound!” Besides, certain words will have different connotations across languages and cultures, making translation difficult. Even in the same language it can be a minefield, as in Spanish where one innocent word in one country becomes a sexual innuendo in another.

    But to focus on Volodos, who never ceases to amaze me with his musicality, his subtlety, and his incredible sensitivity to music and the arts: while he is capable of creating a “mighty”, “powerful” sound without the harshness or crassness that characterises musicules and innumerable immature prodigies, Volodos is capable of shaping every single melody in the most natural way, his pianissimos being some of the most refined that I have had the pleasure of hearing. It should be noted that a musician who admired Volodos’s interpretations is Daniil Trifonov, as he admitted in an interview concerning his recording Mompou’s Variations on a Theme by Chopin.

    I recommend anybody to peruse Volodos’s interviews in Spanish. Unlike most musicians, Volodos is fairly philosophical and eloquent when it comes to talking about music and its composers, but without the arrogance and megalomania that characterises some other interpreters.

    As for Mr Lebrecht, any intention to review any recordings by Volodos anytime soon? I easily recommend his recording from Vienna, his disk on Mompou, or his disk on Brahms. In fact, listening to all his recordings shows how much he has evolved from his early years as a performer and turned into one of the greatest living pianists.

    «Vivimos una época que va en contra de la música clásica, porque para tocarla hay que estar en silencio. La verdadera esencia de la música clásica es el silencio. La percepción del tiempo ha cambiado. Si no hay silencio en el mundo, todos se vuelven sordos». A. V.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    He has a large, refined, yet rich sound. He does not obnoxiously bang on the piano.

  • Peter Stöber says:

    Dear Mr. Lebrecht,
    We all know your German skills are good enough to understand that this article is nothing but a „Lobgesang“ on the concert of this fabulous pianist. Your false Interpretation of the translation of the headline simply must be intentionally.

    Of course Sony is as bad as any other major record company, but how come there is a clear tendency on your blog against Sony artists? If have been reading your blog now for a while. I can see DG and Warner ads on SlippedDisc but no Sony banners…

    Please, Mr. Lebrecht, you are such an important voice in our small classical world. Don’t let yourself be dragged into this stupid record company game! We need you!

    • Rgiarola says:

      Maybe I’m just especulating, but perhaps it’s came from a long date, probably since Peter Gelb times in Sony

      • Peter Stöber says:

        DG has a new head VP Marketing who joined from Axel Springer publishing house – he seems to have only one goal: pushing the yellow brand and HIMSELF as hard as he can into any kind of media. Nothing wrong about that, but what about newly signed artist since he joined? No one worth be called an artist. Hope head of DG, Frank Biermann, and rest of the gang at UNI Classical will end this embarising puppet show in bad German suits soon…

  • Daniel Greenhouse says:

    Arcadi Volodos is definitely capable of a huge sound, but it is always perfectly balanced, beautifully rounded, bronze, and thrilling, never harsh, never bangy, never “noisy”. Volodos’ sound is gorgeous at all dynamic levels.

  • Patrick Park says:

    Lol That’s what one ignorant Interviewer once said about the great Vladimir Horowitz. Make no mistake Volodos is a lyrical pianist with the most beautiful and colorful sound since those incredible days of Horowitz. He has no competition period! Listen to his Liszt Dante Sonata performance. It’s breath taking at every moment. I took the liberty to listen to 23 recordings of the best pianists performing the Liszt and all failed the litmas test required of virtuoso piano technic, color, warmth and beauty! Bravo Volodos