Lola Astanova was born in 1982 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in the former Soviet Union. She began studying piano at age 6 and performing in public at 8. She emigrated to the United States in 2003, and in 2004 made her U.S. debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
Lola has a special affinity for the Russian composers Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, and Rachmaninoff. Watching her videos, I am impressed by her virtuosity, certainly, but even more by her passion for this music. In sports parlance, she leaves it all on the field.
While some pianists and critics insist on the greatest possible fidelity to the score, Lola is not shy about making changes when she feels they’re warranted. We have an example of that in this sonata by Rachmaninoff, about which Lola writes, “After carefully listening to Rachmaninoff’s original and revised versions of the first movement, I put together my own version that combined the two. Although there was plenty of material in the original version that was simply too beautiful to leave out, I forced myself to do that as some of its elements were interfering with the structure of the movement. I felt a bit like a painter who has a palette of rich and vibrant colors, but cannot use all of them because the canvas is just too small.”
This performance demonstrates the passion and technical command that typify Ms. Astanova’s playing. I, for one, have become a new fan, and look forward with great anticipation to additional examples of her artistry.