Russia’s most elusive artist turns 60

He has never been one for giving interviews. Such public comments as he utters are often disparaging. He is an intensely private artist who has preserved some kind of individualist integrity in Putinist Russia. He was caught once as a hostage in a war of oligarchs; he is more careful now.

Mikhail Pletnev turned 60 this weekend (April 14 or 15, the date is disputed).

Winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky competition, he is among the most interesting, least showy pianists of our time – as well as a compelling conductor of limited repertoire.

UPDATE: Does he know ‘Happy Birthday’?

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  • He is also one of the top conductors of our time. I remember an outstanding concert version of Eugene Onegin in Moscow and an incredible Schubert 9 in Paris with the Philharmonia as a last minute replacement of Erich Leinsdorf.

  • I don’t know if he’s a great conductor generally, but I saw him with the Russian National Orchestra in Moscow a few times when I lived in Moscow, and they were some of the best concerts I experienced there.

  • I have a recording of Pletnev conducting the Russian National Orchestra playing March Slav and Romeo and Juliet. He’s masterful with that literature and shines some new light on a couple of old war horses.

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