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Lisitsa seems right at home here, and so she should be, having commanded the Albert Hall stage in a two-and-a-half-hour virtuoso performance a month earlier.
The next step was a home-made DVD of Chopin’s 24 Etudes, filmed by the ever-resourceful Kuznetsoff using video equipment bought at a bankruptcy auction.
He spent hours placing the microphones just so, only for her mother to shove them aside so she could mop the floor.
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At 17 Lisitsa enrolled at the Kiev Conservatory where she met her future husband, Alexei Kuznetsoff, over a game of chess.
'I remember her saying, “I’ve given you easy piece of bread.” That was her expression, [meaning] I will not have to slave like she did. Her elder brother died three years ago, having failed to adapt to life in an independent Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.'He was doing drugs and all kind of things,’ she says.
You could trace her resilience back to her mother, a seamstress, also called Valentina, who sent her to music school in the hope she would become a piano teacher. She had to do alterations for all those rich ladies, the fat Party wives.’ Lisitsa’s late father, Evgeny, an engineer, was not really in her life.After success in Russia they moved to America, picking up English with the help of CNN, and in 1991 winning the most prestigious title in the field, the Dranoff International Two Piano Competition. ’ Her manager had died, she was stuck at home with a toddler.They married in 1992 and, in the years that followed, moved from Dallas to Miami, eventually settling in rural North Carolina, where they now reside alongside four grand pianos, their seven-year-old son, Benjamin, and the redoubtable Valentina Snr. She yearned for an audience; without one, she says, you are just an amateur, like the thousands of great players out there – doctors, lawyers, engineers.The pianist Valentina Lisitsa is contemplating her unlikely resurrection.'You know with my career, what is happening with You Tube and all this stuff, it’s amazing because in the age of child prodigies I’m totally dead!With a ready-made audience like that, you can see why Decca Records signed her up.