Hokkaido Shimbun

March 25, 1996


Sultanov Piano Recital


Pianist Alexei Sultanov gave a recital of a high-calorie program of Beethoven's "Appasionata" sonata, Chopin's Ballade №4 and Scherzo №3, Scriabin's Sonata №5, and

Rachmaninov's Sonata 2. He is both an angry young man

and an exhausting young man.  Even among young professional musicians right now, the number who have the ability to (relatively) tire out an audience is decreasing rapidly, so Sultanov's emergence is very precious.

He shared second prize at last year's Chopin Competition, where no first prize was awarded.  He caused some controversy by not showing up for the awards ceremony.  His singular attitude may have prompted some older, conservative judges to find him objectionable and call him "self-indulgent."

He did not fail once in any of the five pieces he played.  In terms of dynamics and tempo, he has developed an advanced technique.  It is not strange that there are two opposite opinions about his playing: some reject his interpretation, which goes beyond the score; and some are fanatics.  His detailed structural perspective of a given composition shows no deformation whatsoever.

After a big-hearted performance of the Scherzo, there was an intermission, and the he moved to the Scriabin. His performance lacked the piece's characteristic symbolism and sacred mystery; it did not summon up ideas of secret rituals of ecstasy and deliverance.  But overall, I think his interpretation was appropriate for his age (He was born in 1969 in Tashkent, Uzbekhistan).

He gave a strong performance of Rachmaninov, which he himself arranged based on the 1931 revised edition.  For his encore, he played three popular Chopin pieces.  He was provocative in his demonstration of pianism, demonstrating with each piece exquisiteness, magnificence, and fluidity= From now on> he might want-to aim -for more -sophistication-in coloring.  Sultanov should provide good material for anyone who wants to observe the growth of a pianist.


Seiji Taniguchi, music critic March 18; Sapporo Kyoiku Bunka Kaikan, main hall.







From the Japanese magazine "SHTNCHO 45" by Makato Sato December 1995 issue


...In contrast, there was enormous adulation for Sultanov from Russia. He was highly praised as the winner of the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas even before he arrived in Warsaw. His first and second rounds were superb, they were first class performances. Exaggerated fierceness, his former weakness of performing with sheer power has faded into the shadows. His playing here was delicate and showed great sensitivity. In his second round performances of the Waltz No.l and the "Heroic'' Polonaise were truly satisfying and the hall, which was sold out each time Sultanov played, became so excited that he received a standing ovation. Sultanov was number 1 in both in ability and popularity. A music critic was heard saying,"Sultanov's high level of perfection cannot be compared with the other contestants. The difference in ability is like that between an adult and a child."

Soon after his second round, even Sultanov was rumored to be "ineligible" for the first prize. There were rumors that mere will be a "Japanese interest" in the finals. These rumors were placed with the organizing committee people themselves.

Sultanov's playing was careful and tight in the third round, a result of being too aware of his standing in the competition. However, in the finals, he played the Fantasie Op. 13 extremely well. The Concerto No.2 which ( followed showed mat he was way ahead of all the others in his performance skills. At times his playing displayed such beauty that it took one's bream away. When the final decision came down they did not give a first prize and Sultanov was tied with Giusiano from France for second prize. Angered by this decision Sultanov boycotted the award ceremony taking place on the day after the announcement He also did not make an appearance at the Gala concert of winners where all 6 were to perform solo works for about 15 minutes each. The level of playing at the winner's concert shrank to that of a student concert without Sultanov. This caused one of the jury members to complain vociferously that the "winner's concert was the most inconsequential things" he had ever attended."








from Ongaku no Tomo

March 28, 1996


Alexei Sultanov


I attended a recital by Alexei Sultanov, the young Russian pianist who overwhelmed the Chopin Competition last year. One could call his perfromance either pleasant or simply bizarre. His tehnique can by evaluated as the limits for which humans can strive as pianists. The program was itself overwhelming: Beethoven's "Appassionata" sonata, Chopin's Ballade №4 and Scherzo №3, Scriabin's Sonata №5 and Rachmaninov's Sonata №2.

The Beethoven was unbelievable. A hurricane-like driving force for fortes followed by singingly clear pianissimos that took your breath away.

The Scriabin and the Rachmaninov were notable for their energetic coloring and dense sensitivity and were simply amazing. In the end, one cannot deny that Sultanov is an extraordinary pianist.


Kimio Sano

March 28

Tokyo Geijutsu Gekijo







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