Well, she can play…

Well, she can play…


norman lebrecht

October 25, 2020

Some readers expressed doubts about the prodigious Lola Astanova.

Here’s her latest.



  • Ned Keane says:

    Friend of Trump’s too apparently (see here https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/lola-astanova-trump-779405)

    He enjoys her Raindrop Prelude, I believe.

    • Rogerio says:

      Trump making her a great pianist:
      “A lot of people say she’s a great pianist. I’ve never heard of her. But that´s what people say.”
      Trump making her a bad pianist: “Peaple say she sucks. It’s just sex, sex, sex. I’ve never heard of her. But a lot of people are saying that.”

  • Shirokuma says:

    Utterly. Totally. Vile and disgusting. I don‘t care if she plays like God.

    • David says:

      Dude, she’s just playing the piano in clothes…I’m sure you’ve seen and even appreciated much “worse”. It’s one thing to not like her music or her approach to the industry, but it’s another to call her such disproportionately horrible names just for her appearance. Get off of your high horse!

    • Novagerio says:

      Shirokuma: You are expressing precisely what she wants to provoke: your personal hatred of beautiful women.

      • Alma Regina says:

        I think she is quite disgusting.. If talent is really good, one won’t need a semi naked woman in this sad state of self-objectification to be successful! She clearly does not believe in herself as an artist and instead goes for cheap, tasteless exploiting of her sexual attractiveness instead of emphasizing her musician and artistic skills (and attractiveness)…

    • Paganono says:


    • Ken says:

      God’s still got problems with E major.

  • yujafan says:

    Bring back Yuja – or any other genuine musician

  • Rogerio says:

    She is going to have problems with her lower back if she doesn’t do something about her posture.

  • Not quite says:

    That is a picture of J.Lo.

  • IP says:

    She might be a bit overdressed for whatever she is doing.

  • “What’s the fuss about?” is the question that I find myself asking every time another video of this inveterate self-publicist is put up. Yes, she’s had a pretty decent Russian-school-style training as a pianist and she can play, though I find nothing exceptional in her playing and, were her attire to be more like that of, say, Martha Argerich (who can also play, in the unlikely event that anyone has failed to notice), few would take much notice as they do when Martha herself plays even though there’s nothing to notice in HER performances except the music and how she plays it.

    The principal problem where LA is concerned seems to be that one could be forgiven for assuming that she’s contracted a particularly virulent case of COVID-19 (which I would wish on no one, of course), given her self-evident appetite for the oxygen of publicity which you are once again giving her here…

    • Petros Linardos says:

      There have always been female great performers blessed with attractive looks, but whose fame was rooter in their artistic qualities and not on their looks or antics. Lisa della Casa was a prime example, I think.

  • Virginia says:

    The only way to get attention is to play like that, next step maybe completely undressed. She plays like hundries of professional pianists; with clothes and usual stage she would be one of them, and no one would really notice this performance. Sad way to distinguish herself from others…

  • Geronte di Ravoir says:

    So to serve music it is necessary not to be attractive and to show it so that certain dilettantes do not succumb to lust? Welcome beauty to the puritan world of classical music.

  • Joel A Stein says:

    I would love to see Rachmaninov’s reaction-appalled, amused, aroused or just stone faced.

  • Dr. Grimwood says:

    Oh come on Norman, ignore the writhing and close your eyes and listen! Her playing is no better than the vast majority of conservatory students, she is mediocre at best. The only reason she receives attention is that she is a shiny, rubberized silicone-injected Kardashian clone who dresses like a cheap prozzie

    • Firing Back says:

      And that’s exactly what the music profession has allowed and courted. So it gets what it deserves. You, Dr Grimwood, get what you deserve.

      No one said a word whilst industry bosses ruined a once-respected profession.

      Did (do) you, Dr Grimwood, dare open your mouth and speak about injustice, corruption, nepotism etc in the profession? Or do you sit with the comfortable hive (on Facebook perhaps?) agreeing with woke gaggles as they slate the government, Brexit etc etc?
      A cowardly gaggle that doesn’t dare say a word about a toxic music industry, because you’re all too scared of it.

      Yet a pianist in glitzy clothing triggers you.
      You have no authority to complain.

      • Dr. Grimwood says:

        Please, tell me in your no doubt insightful, not-at-all-unhinged right wing opinion, how do I, a lowly tutti cellist, change the “toxic” music industry? Be specific.

        • Firing Back says:

          Cool ad hominem use.

          Answer to your question – how do you change the toxic music industry:
          Firstly, you grow some balls.
          Then, you react to the injustice in the profession – there’s a lot of it, so it should keep you pretty busy.
          If you are, as you claim, in an orchestra, then you’re in a prime spot to gather others who can help you as you become a champion for justice and fairness in a profession riddled with cronyism and corruption.

          Or, as I’m sure is nearer the truth, you can continue to sit on Facebook and scream with the hive about Bwexit, and the nasty government.

  • Bruce says:

    I listened while scrolling (as I generally do, to avoid the video) and lost interest right away. In fact I was a little surprised when the piece ended, because I’d sort of stopped noticing there was music playing. — Like when the refrigerator stops running and you realize “oh, I guess it was on, wasn’t it.”

    By comparison, the Kovacevich birthday recital, which I listened to the same way — not watching the video — kept grabbing my attention all the way through.

    • Bruce says:

      I should also add, by way of contrast, that when I do the same thing to Buniatishvili videos, she also keeps me listening. She markets herself on her looks, but there is (IMHO) an artist under all the gloss.

  • Adrian says:

    Not even Yuja shows her panties whilst playing… (white by the way)

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I knew a splendid pianist who made a few recordings whose engagements ended when she gained weight and could no longer wow the crowd with her outfits. She never updated her P.R. photos either, which was in a sense dishonest. The lack of engagements caused an excessive reliance on gin to get through the day, and then she died. Few probably remember her name.

    A career based largely or entirely on superficial trappings will likely be a superficial career. Liberace, who, whatever his other talents, was able to turn some memorable phrases in his time, says in one of his concert videos “well, look me over. I don’t dress this way to go unnoticed.” At one time his playing itself garnered some notice.

    There are not many good things I could care to say about (true) rock music or the people who like it, but I will give it and them this much credit: the rock music crowd has, in common with the classical music crowd and the jazz music crowd, a loyalty to favorite musicians and ensembles that lasts for long long periods to the point where the musicians are really old and look really old and have lost any trace that youth and good looks can explain their popularity. The music-making alone does.

    Pop music by contrast is a world that goes through artists like Kleenex, to be tossed aside when something newer comes along. These classical artists who take the pop music approach to looks and attire might be making money but are passing up their chance to have a career that is measured in quarters of a century not mere years, which should be the aspiration of someone who goes through all that training and all that repertoire. It is sad but all sorts of folks in this world mess up their lives with their choices.

  • John says:

    I feel cheated because it looks as if she is wearing some big granny sized underwear under that ultra tight, short mini dress. Calling Vivid Entertainment customer services number right now!

  • Karl says:

    Maybe someday she will have a wardrobe malfunction and really hit it big.

  • Jonathan says:

    Yuck. Just awful.

  • Papageno says:

    Reminds me of the story of a young, gorgeous Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, walking on the stage to start her recital, and someone in the audience gasped, “WOW! and she sings, too?”

  • Alexander T says:

    Prodigious? I think not.
    Check out Lazar Berman’s performance on Youtube and hear the difference.
    She is a well-trained competent pianist and no more than that.

  • lloyd says:

    Why doesn’t she just play naked to really get the views? No one is watching this for her musicality. Let’s just pull the curtain on that idea.

  • Justin Hoplite says:

    That’s a guy.

  • papageno says:

    Most people are shocked when a pop performer can also do classical…but not the other way around.

  • Steven Jones says:

    I don’t understand the comments that say she’s beautiful. Much like a beautiful painting that’s been varnished over, any beauty that she might have is ruined by the unnatural varnish applied to her.
    This reminds me of what happened to the British Music Yearbook back in the 70s and 80s; when so many fine, young musicians (especially flautists, for some reason?) appeared in leather cat suits!

  • Peter says:

    Is a headline stating that a Pianist can play the Piano the most newsworthy story at the moment ?

  • Peter says:

    Tacky & unnecessary.
    “she is a shiny, rubberized silicone-injected Kardashian clone ” (cfr. Dr. Grimwood).

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    Is she a reincarnation of Naughty Lola in the Marlene Dietrich song which also mentioned a “pianola”? Hmmm…

  • John Borstlap says:

    There should be easier ways for her to find a clientèle.