Five Great Lazar Berman Recordings

The legendary Russian pianist Lazar Berman was born in Saint Petersburg on this date in 1930.

At first confined to the Soviet Union and its satellite countries (the 12-year travel ban may have been the result of his marriage to a French woman), Berman burst onto the international music scene in the mid-1970s, following American and European tours. His playing often exuded a stunning dramatic power. In a 2005 New York Times obituary, Allan Kozinn described Berman as “a representative of the grand school of Russian Romantic pianism” with “a huge, thunderous technique that made him a thrilling interpreter of Liszt and Rachmaninoff.” After hearing Berman in Moscow in 1961, longtime New York Times music critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that he “had 20 fingers and breathed fire.”

Here are five of Lazar Berman’s recordings. If one of your personal favorites wasn’t included, please add it in the comment thread below.

Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 In B Flat Minor

An incredible, searing, intensity underlies this 1976 recording with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. The monumental, soaring opening theme is infused with a uniquely terrifying ferocity, as if a raw energy is being unleashed. The piano’s chords land as titanic thunderbolts.

Liszt: 12 Transcendental Etudes

Some of the most technically challenging music ever written for the piano, Berman attacks Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Études with unabashed bravura.

Rachmaninov: Preludes

Here are four of Rachmaninov’s Preludes: the famous Prelude in C sharp minor Op. 3 No. 2Prelude in F sharp minor Op. 23 No. 1 (05:11), Prelude in G sharp minor Op. 32 No. 1 (09:30), Prelude in B flat Op. 23 No. 2 (12:00)

Prokofiev: Toccata in D minor

Written in 1912, Prokofiev’s D minor Toccata takes us on a wild, chromatic ride with some of the most ferocious, demonic music ever imagined:

Lazar Berman in Concert in Tokyo (1988)

This recital program opens with Schumann’s Piano Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.11 and proceeds into works by Liszt and Rachmaninov.


  • Lazar Berman’s complete discography iTunes
  • Lazar Berman gives a masterclass on Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

1 thought on “Five Great Lazar Berman Recordings”

  1. Great. Thank you very much for the reminder. Yes, I was struck when I first heard Lazar Berman. love your engagement.As I love Berman.


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