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Death of pianists Radu Lupu and Nicholas Angelich

Paying homage in the same article to Radu Lupu and Nicholas Angelich perhaps finds its legitimacy beyond the dates so close to their deaths, April 17 and 18… Admittedly, one was born in 1945 in Galati in Romania, the each other in Cincinnati in the United States in 1970: but their passionate devotion to the keyboard, far from the considerations of career, race for recordings and feverish inscription in the business brought them together.

Radu Lupu, with his bushy beard and deceptively nonchalant demeanor, and Nicholas Angelich, whose powerful figure masked genuine fragility, seemed to care little about appearances, concentrating on their ten fingers. From which were born celestial moments of pure emotion but also storms of symphonic virtuosity. From the first, trained in Bucharest and then in Moscow, music lovers have especially admired the ability to translate the intimacy of the scores, to establish a climate of overwhelming confidence, stripped of any effect or strong intention.

One only has to listen to the slow movement of Schubert’s penultimate sonata to feel the Radu Lupu “touch”, its obviousness, its clarity. How can a few scratched notes like a little song suggest so much? The secret lay largely in the incredible chromatic palette, from glowing lows to opalescent highs, which made its reputation.

The second, who came to study in Paris from the age of 13, notably with Yvonne Loriod and Aldo Ciccolini, also cultivated a form of spiritual simplicity, of quiet majesty which notably illuminated the Pilgrimage years by Liszt or Beethoven’s sonatas. In recital, with orchestra or during chamber music concerts that he particularly appreciated, Nicholas Angelich was like this solid trunk under which the walker can rest. Raising his eyes, he soon contemplates the branches touching the sky, the tender leaves lulled by the wind…

So much delicacy took root, with the two artists, in an unstoppable digital mastery, capable of triggering fireworks and impressive cataclysms. At Schumann or Moussorgski with Radu Lupu, with Messiaen or Rachmaninov for Nicholas Angelich, whose recording of Studies-Paintings rightly caused a sensation. Seriously ill, they had to interrupt brilliant careers which had previously taken them all over the world. The tributes paid to them reflect as much affection as admiration for these poetic musicians, honest and attentive to their peers.


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