Lucas Debargue

The French pianist Lucas Debargue was born in Paris in 1990 into a non-musical family. In 1999 he settled in Compiègne, about 90 kilometers north of Paris, and began his initial piano studies at the local music school at the age of eleven. At fifteen Debargue ceased piano studies, having found no musical mentor to help him share his passion with others and having become frustrated at playing solely for himself. He began to work toward his Baccalaureate at a local college and joined a rock band. At seventeen he relocated to the capital to study for a degree in Arts and Literature at Paris-Diderot University and, remarkably, ceased playing the piano altogether for three years.  

In 2010 he was asked to play at the Fête de la Musique festival in Compiègne, and this marked his return to the keyboard. Shortly after this he was put in touch with his current mentor and guide, the celebrated Russian professor Rena Shereshevskaya, who is based at both the Rueil-Malmaison Conservatory and the École Normale de Musique de Paris ‘Alfred Cortot’. Seeing in Debargue a future great interpreter, Professor Shereshevskaya admitted him into her class at the Alfred Cortot School to prepare him for grand international competitions. It was at the age of twenty that Debargue started formal piano training.  

Only four years later he entered the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition, and the world instantly took note of a startling and original new talent. “There hasn’t been a foreign pianist who has caused such a stir since Glenn Gould’s arrival in Moscow, or Van Cliburn’s victory at the Tchaikovsky Competition,” said The Huffington Post.   A performer of fierce integrity and dazzling communicative power, Debargue draws inspiration for his playing from many disciplines, including literature, painting, cinema and jazz. The core piano repertoire is central to his career, but he is also keen to present works by lesser-known composers such as Nikolai Medtner, Samuel Maykapar and Nikolai Roslavets.  

In 2015 Lucas Debargue became the most talked-about artist of the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition. Despite being placed fourth, his muscular and intellectual playing, combined with an intensely poetic and lyrical gift for phrasing, earned him the coveted Moscow Music Critics’ Award as “the pianist whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience”. He was the only musician across all disciplines to do so.   Soon after the competition Debargue was signed by Sony Classical, and recorded a live recital for his debut release with music by Ravel, Liszt, Chopin and Scarlatti in his native city of Paris.

Lucas Debargue plays Bach, Beethoven and Medtner on a C. Bechstein

Lucas Debargue plays Bach, Beethoven and Medtner on a C. Bechstein

In 2016, Lucas Debargue recorded works by Bach, Beethoven and Medtner for the Sony Classical label. The instrument he chose was a C. Bechstein concert grand D 282. Critics praised the new recording made by this young, often polarizing pianist. For example, the BR Klassik radio station stated that he interprets Bach and Beethoven “in a masterly fashion”, while his performance of Bach’s Toccata in C Minor is “wonderfully breathing and balanced and not at all affected”. As for the RBB Kulturradio critics, they highlighted Debargue’s “pulsating and percussive performance” of Bach and declared that his interpretation of Medtner’s sonata, a seldom heard work, conjured “enviable, crystal-clear sound.” Congratulations, Lucas Debargue!

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