Rudy began studies at the age of five at the Music High School in Stalino. At the age of sixteen he went to the Moscow Conservatory where he studied with Yakov Flier. A prizewinner at the Bach Competition in Leipzig, Rudy then won first prize at the Marguerite Long-Jacques Thibaud Competition in Paris where Arthur Rubinstein complimented him on his performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 16. During the 1975–1976 season Rudy gave more than a hundred concerts in Russian cities; but in December 1976 he settled in Paris, taking French citizenship the following year, a year in which he made his debuts in France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal and West Germany. At the beginning of his career he played under conductors including Paul Paray, Eliahu Inbal, Nello Santi and Carlo Zecchi.
In celebration of Marc Chagall’s ninetieth birthday in 1977 Rudy was invited to perform Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with violinist Isaac Stern and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich. With this event he launched his international career and made his debut in America with Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra. At the Salzburg Easter Festival Rudy performed with Herbert von Karajan and at his London debut he performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas. He has since pursued an international career touring in Europe and America and has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Toronto Symphony, Concertgebouw, London Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris. Until 1987 Rudy performed chamber music with the Amadeus Quartet, and has since worked with the Guarneri Quartet and the Vienna Philharmonic Wind Ensemble. Festivals in which Rudy has been invited to appear include Tanglewood, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Lockenhaus and Vienna.
At the 1989 Proms in London Rudy played Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor Op. 16 and the same year was the subject of a French television documentary entitled Le Grand Echiquier. In 1990 Rudy returned to Russia for the first time since his defection, where he performed with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the following year made his debut with the Dresden Staatskapelle. Rudy is currently music director of the St Riquier Festival in France.
Rudy’s repertoire is mainly from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and his style, although in the mould of a Russian virtuoso, is tempered by French attributes of control and clarity. He has recorded for Erato, Calliope, RCA and EMI. An early disc from 1980 of the Liszt Sonata and late piano works is impressive yet does not have the poetry and insight that comes with age; although this has been reissued by Calliope on compact disc, Rudy’s recording for the same company of Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata appears not to have been reissued. There are also recordings of the later Scriabin sonatas and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. One of Rudy’s first recordings for EMI was a Ravel disc containing fine performances of Miroirs, Gaspard de la nuit, La Valse and Pavane pour une infante défunte. He gives an impressively ethereal performance of Ondine and his Scarbo is unusually light and lithe. An excellent collection of Szymanowski’s works includes the Twelve Études Op. 33, Métopes Op. 29 and Masques Op. 34, plus some mazurkas. A critic of The Gramophone wrote, ‘I have enjoyed this collection enormously… If I wanted to convert someone to Szymanowski’s piano music, I think I should start with this disc.’ Three discs of Brahms’s piano works have variable sound quality, whilst two discs of Janáček’s chamber music, including an excellent Violin Sonata with Pierre Amoyal, also contain many of the well-known piano solos. With conductor Mariss Jansons Rudy has recorded both piano concertos by Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor Op. 23 and all of Rachmaninov’s concertos plus the Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini Op. 43. In 1998 Rudy recorded his own transcription of Stravinsky’s complete ballet Petrushka ‘…with a stylish nonchalance far removed from the ferocity of Pollini’ as Bryce Morrison wrote. Rudy’s first disc for French EMI was made in 1987 and he is still recording for the same company. In 2003 he recorded an enterprising recital of transcriptions and original works by Wagner in which he has revised a transcription of the Siegfried Idyll by Josef Rubinstein and plays other transcriptions by Hugo Wolf, Hans von Bülow and Liszt, including the latter’s arrangement of the overture to Tannhäuser.
Of chamber music recordings, there is a very fine compact disc of the three Brahms violin sonatas with violinist Vladimir Spivakov from 1991, and with Pierre Amoyal Rudy recorded violin sonatas by César Franck and Edvard Grieg for Erato. There are also a couple of discs of works by Schumann and Brahms for EMI where Rudy is joined by clarinettist Michel Portal and cellist Boris Pergamenschikov.
© Naxos Rights International Ltd. — Jonathan Summers (A–Z of Pianists, Naxos 8.558107–10)
Role: Classical Artist