The Russian pianist, Arcadi [Arkady] Volodos (Russian: Аркадий Володось, Arcadij Volodos), began his musical training studying voice, following the example of his parents, who were singers, and later shifted his emphasis to conducting while a student at the Capilla M. Glinka School and the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Though he had played the piano from the age of 8, he did not devote himself to serious study of the instrument until 1987. His formal piano training took place at the Moscow Conservatory with Galina Egiazarova. Volodos also studied at the Conservatoire de Paris with Jacques Rouvier. In Madrid, he studied at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía with Dimitri Bashkirow. The idea of "contests" was entirely alien to his concept of music, so that he refused to enter competitions, and thus decided not to pursue a soloist's career initially.
Despite the relative brevity of his formal studies, Arcadi Volodos has been naturally and rapidly propelled into the elite pantheon of the world's most important pianists. His meteoric career took off thanks to a fortunate coincidence: a manager of the Sony Classical label was on a business trip in 1996 when a French friend urged him to listen to a private performance of a few pieces by an extremely talented pianist. The "audition" took place in a small house in Antibes on the Côte d'Azur, and the Sony man was so impressed by Volodos´ exceptional ability that he immediately offered him an exclusive long-term contract. His explanation at the time: "You only come across someone as talented as Arcadi Volodos once in a lifetime". Volodos' playing is always marked by a combination of breathtaking technical virtuosity as well as profound and expressive musicality. He is renowned for his technical mastery of the instrument's virtuosic repertoire; particularly that of Sergei Rachmaninov, Franz Liszt and his transcriptions of recordings by the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Thomas Frost, the producer of many of V. Horowitz's recordings, and producer of Volodos' recordings for Sony Classical, has said that Volodos "has everything: imagination, colour, passion and a phenomenal technique to carry out his ideas."
The first album featuring spectacular transcriptions "Piano Transcriptions", some written by Arcadi Volodos himself, was released in autumn 1997; accompanied as it was by the pianist's first live appearances, it caused an absolute sensation. The CD was awarded several prizes (i.e. Gramophone Editor's Choice, Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik) and received outstanding reviews: "A young sorcerer" (FonoForum); "Volodos certainly has what it takes to become a new Horowitz" (Der Spiegel).
Thanks to his sensational debut CD and much acclaimed recitals, Arcadi Volodos was soon afterwards invited to the leading international concert halls. Since then he has been working all over the world with many of the world's most renowned orchestras and conductors He has performed with such orchestras as the Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Conductors with whom he has played include Vladimir Ashkenazy, Riccardo Chailly, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, Zubin Mehta and Zubin Mehta. Appearances in 2000 included the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Michael Tilson Thomas, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra and Lawrence Foster, Philadelphia Orchestra and David Zinman, Philharmonia Orchestra led by Lorin Maazel, and Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. Repeat performances at New York's Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonie and London's Royal Festival Hall were also scheduled.
In 1999, Sony Classical released the legendary Carnegie Hall debut recital that Arcadi Volodos gave the year before "Live At Carnegie Hall", and this CD, too, was showered with international awards such as the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, the Gramophone Award and the Echo Klassik 1999. Since then, further CD's have been released to widespread acclaim, featuring works by Schubert "Solo Piano Works", S. Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto, with the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by James Levine) and Tchaikovsky's Piano concerto No. 1 with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Seiji Ozawa "Piano Concerto". In February 2007, Sony Classical released the CD "Volodos plays Liszt".
Arcady Volodos has been claimed as being a modern day V. Horowitz, with his flawless technical ability and his renditions of notoriously difficult arrangements of pieces. A particular example was of his arrangement of Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca in which he paraphrased the movement to produce a seemingly impossible task of playing a melody and a counter melody with his right hand, and frightfully large chords and intricate passages with his left. Another notable transcription written by Volodos was his arrangement of Polka Italienne, a lesser known duet by Sergei Rachmaninov which is a commonly requested encore piece at his recitals. Despite the fact that this piece is a duet, he is more than capable of playing both parts at an extremely rapid pace. He is also known for reviving V. Horowitz's transcriptions of Carmen, the opera by Georges Bizet, and of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 2 and 15 (Rákóczi March).