Igor Zhukov, a leading Russian pianist who was also a conductor and a recording engineer, died in Moscow on January 26, 2018. He was 81, having been born in 1936 in Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky in the Soviet era); his family moved to Moscow a year after he was born. He studied at Moscow Conservatoire with Emil Gilels and Heinrich Neuhaus, and won the second prize for piano in the Long-Thibaud competition of 1957. He was a pianist of profound insight, which was vividly conveyed by an enormous, seemingly infallible technical capacity. His authoritative recording of all ten Scriabin sonatas was the first complete recording to be made in Russia, and was issued in the composer’s centenary year of 1972. It aroused great interest in the West, and has been reissued on CD; but Zhukov’s formidable discography contains, besides other works by Scriabin, a wide repertoire ranging from Bach to Prokofiev, including the Brahms second concerto, the Medtner first concerto, and all the music for piano and orchestra by Tchaikovsky. The Sonata op. 22 and the Quintet by Medtner were also recorded by Zhukov. He performed and recorded in a trio with the violinist and cellist Grigory and Valentin Feigin, and proved to be an outstanding partner to the soprano Natalia Gerasimova in a disc of songs by Glinka and Rachmaninov.
As conductor Zhukov worked with the Chamber Orchestra of the Ulyanovsk Philharmonia, New Moscow Chamber Orchestra and, more recently, with another chamber orchestra, the Nizhny Novgorod Soloists.
As a human being Zhukov was warm, generous, hospitable and hugely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about all aspects of music. His enormous repertoire as pianist and conductor was predominantly Russian and German, but it is a testimony of his breadth of sympathies that he conducted moving and eloquent performances, with the Nizhny Novgorod Soloists, of works by Elgar and Britten.
Tracks from Zhukov’s recorded archive are being assembled on the official website of the Nizhny Novgorod Soloists (Russian language): http://solistynn.ru/personalii/dirizhyory/igor-mihailovich-zhukov/