YouTube sensation Valentina Lisitsa returns for a Sunday Classic at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall

Russian pianist Valentina Lisitsa is making a welcome return to the Usher Hall. (Photo: Gilbert Francois)
Russian pianist Valentina Lisitsa is making a welcome return to the Usher Hall. (Photo: Gilbert Francois)

YouTube sensation Valentina Lisitsa is nothing less than a modern marvel. A brilliant pianist of the Russian old school who plays with fiery intensity and profound insight, she is also a musical evangelist who has taken classical music to millions through her online videos.

Having posted her first video on YouTube in 2007, viewing figures soon exploded and more videos followed. The foundations of a social media-driven career unparalleled in the history of classical music were laid.

Valentina Lisitsa has long adored the romance and power of Rachmaninov. (Photo: Sam Jones)

Valentina Lisitsa has long adored the romance and power of Rachmaninov. (Photo: Sam Jones)

Her YouTube channel now boasts more than 516,000 subscribers and over 200 million views. No wonder she’s in demand right across the world: her unprecedented global stardom is matched by her breath-taking playing.

Lisitsa has long adored the romance and power of Rachmaninov and following her electrifying performance of his Third Piano Concerto at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall in 2018, she makes a welcome return with the passionate Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, in the Sunday Classics on Sunday, May 12, at 3pm.

Niccolò Paganini’s famous piece has been adored and interpreted by many a composer, including Brahms, but it’s Rachmaninov’s take on the classic that sees it as its tenderest, and wittiest.

He moulds the main theme into musical styles and interpretations previously unheard, and there is no finer pianist to bring this to the Usher Hall than Valentina Lisitsa.

She’s joined by the Russian Philharmonic of Novosibirsk. Considered cultural ambassadors for Siberia, and for the whole of Russia, they are directed by Principal Conductor Thomas Sanderling.

They open this penultimate concert in the 2018/19 Sunday Classics season with an explosion of Spanish colour in Rimsky-Korsakov’s sparkling showpiece Capriccio espagnol.

After the interval, Sanderling and his orchestra explore the kaleidoscopic wonders of Mussorgsky’s spectacular Pictures at an Exhibition. Expect to meet gnomes, chicks chirruping inside their eggs, and a terrifying Russian witch, and to voyage from skeleton-strewn catacombs to one of the glories of Russian architecture.

Sunday Classics: Russian Philharmonic of Novosibirsk, featuring pianist Valentina Lisitsa, is at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, on May 12. For tickets, go to The Usher Hall