Featuring Arcadi Volodos
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Pianist Arcadi Volodos has specialized in virtuoso repertory, especially transcriptions. However, he has broadened his repertory to include works from the mainstream of German Romanticism, including those by Schubert and Brahms. Arcadi Volodos (various transliterations of his name have been used) was born in Leningrad, in the Soviet Union (now St. Petersburg, Russia), on February 24, 1972. His parents were both classical singers, and he planned a musical career. Volodos flirted with the idea of becoming a conductor and enrolled for classes at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, leading the student orchestra there as a teen. He took required piano classes, and his teachers noticed that he had unusual talent at the keyboard. So Volodos switched to the piano at 15 and made rapid progress. He studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Galina Jegiasarowa and Dmitri Baschkirow, and he began to make an impact outside Russia when he was included in the 1991 New Names series in New York. Volodos also studied at the Paris Conservatory with Jacques Rouvier and at the Madrid Music Academy Reina Sofía with Dmitri Baschkirow. He refused to enter competitions, claiming that their competitive quality violated the spirit of music, but his growing talent and originality -- he began to create virtuoso paraphrases and adaptations of music by the likes of Bizet, Liszt, Rachmaninoff -- landed him major bookings. Two breakthroughs were a recital at Wigmore Hall in London in 1996 and another at New York's Carnegie Hall two years later. Volodos was championed by Thomas Frost, a longtime producer of Vladimir Horowitz's recordings, and he was influenced by Horowitz, who also favored virtuoso transcriptions. Volodos played not only his own transcriptions but those by others, such as György Cziffra's version of the Flight of the Bumblebee by Rimsky-Korsakov. He also increasingly began to play works by Schubert in recital, and then those by other 19th century composers. Volodos was signed early in his career to Sony Classical, where he released a self-titled album in 1997. Several of his recordings there have won Gramophone awards in the UK, and he received Germany's ECHO Klassik award in 2003. Along the way, he has recorded music of a distinctly non-virtuoso nature, such as on the album Volodos plays Mompou in 2013. In 2019, he released a recording of Schubert's Piano Sonata in A major, D. 959, on Sony Classical.