Pianist Polina Leschenko has been an effective contemporary exponent of the pure power virtuoso style of her native Russia.
Leschenko was born in Saint Petersburg in 1981. Her family was musical, and her first teacher was her father, Sergei. By age eight, she had already made her debut with what was then the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra. After studies with a succession of Russian teachers, she moved to Brussels, Belgium, to enroll at the Royal Conservatory. She received a diploma with the highest distinction there when she was 16. An EMI label CD in the Martha Argerich Presents series, featuring rising musicians, helped broaden awareness of her talents, and top-level appearances began to come her way: with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in England, and several times with the venerable Hallé Orchestra under conductor Mark Elder. The year 2006 was a significant one for Leschenko: she was signed to the Avanti label and released her debut album on the label containing works by Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninov. Leschenko also toured with the innovative Australian Chamber Orchestra, playing Felix Mendelssohn's Double Concerto for violin, piano, and orchestra with the group's artistic director, Richard Tognetti. Teaching responsibilities at the Royal College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, where she has served as International Chair of Piano, slowed Leschenko's recording output somewhat, but she continued to record for Avanti, issuing a well-received Liszt recital including the Piano Sonata in B minor; that album won a a Choc award from the magazine Monde de la Musique and several other awards from continental magazines. Her 2012 release Forgotten Melodies explored Russian virtuoso works by Rachmaninov, Medtner, and the concert pianist Mischa Levitzki. In 2013 she reprised her collaboration with the Australian Chamber Orchestra for the Swedish label BIS. Leschenko returned in 2018 with violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja on the French label Alpha, a recording of early 20th century violin-and-piano works incorporating folk influences.