Valentina Lisitsa strode onto a London nightclub stage last night and started taking pictures of the audience on her Blackberry. Then she sat down at the keyboard, beneath a couple of giant TV screens, and demonstrated what the pianist has to do in Rachmaninov’s Paganini Variations – which is mostly to sit there looking vaguely interested.
She read back a few audience tweets from her cellphone and tried to identify who was sending them. With 56 million Youtube hits, she works social media like a circusmaster.
This was Val’s first crack at DG’s Yellow Lounge and she proved a natural, quipping back and forth with the crowd, playing a few intense pieces and generally communicating in ways few artists do that it’s fun to be up there on stage, controlling the rhythm. To be a great pianist, she told us, you have to sweat buckets. Same applies to conductors. Val does it dry.
Around 800 people packed into the Fabric floorspace on word of mouth. The only promotion was on social media and people paid £10 to get in. Not many hands shot up when Val asked if anyone had been to a classical recital before. This could be the start of something interesting.
The heavies took my camera away, so we’ve had to wait a couple of days for official Universal pictures (above).
UPDATE: Here’s unofficial video of her Liszt set from Geoff Cox. Digits at Universal still implanted up the corporate corpus.