The Scotsman Sessions #253: Nikita Lukinov

Welcome to the award-winning Scotsman Sessions. With performing arts activity curtailed for the foreseeable future, we are commissioning a series of short video performances from artists all around the country and releasing them on, with introductions from our critics. Here, pianist and RCS graduate Nikita Lukinov performs Alexander Scriabin’s Waltz, Op. 38

Like many students, young Russian-born pianist Nikita Lukinov – who has just graduated from Glasgow’s Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – has faced severe disruption to his studies over the past year.

“All my lessons have been online, but I was lucky to be able to go into the Conservatoire to practise,” he says. “During the first lockdown, I just practised a lot – I started learning the Liszt Piano Sonata, and I took my time, reading about it, practising slowly.”

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It’s one of the most demanding works – technically, intellectually and emotionally – in the entire piano repertoire, and the fact that Lukinov chose it as his lockdown project says a lot about his exceptional talents. He was particularly busy with concerts and masterclasses across Europe and America just before lockdown struck last March, and is looking to return to his hectic schedule as the music world reopens: he’s recently given two concerts in London and one at Edinburgh’s Scottish Arts Club, and plans to participate in Switzerland’s prestigious Verbier Academy later in the summer, as well as returning to the RCS for his master’s in the autumn.

He’s chosen the early Waltz, Op. 38, by his compatriot Alexander Scriabin for his Scotsman Sessions performance.

“I first discovered Scriabin’s music about 18 months ago and realised how wonderful it was,” he says, “I’d never heard anything like it. It’s like a grander version of Chopin, with Russian spices in it. This piece has an opening theme that sounds to me very much like ‘I love you’ in Russian, and I think of that every time I play it.”

In many ways it’s the ideal piece to showcase Lukinov’s remarkable pianism, from his supple negotiation of the work’s complex layered rhythms to his poise and clarity in its simpler passages, and of course the joyful power he unleashes in its bravura climax.

"It took me some time to polish that and make it as clean as possible,” he admits. “But I think it’s amazing piece, really shimmering in its harmonies.”

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