Denis Matsuev: The things I tell Putin

Denis Matsuev: The things I tell Putin


norman lebrecht

September 30, 2017

The musician closest to the Russian president talks about their relationship to the state news agency, Tass. As you’d expect, he’s full of praise for Putin’s piano playing, but there are chinks of insight between the cracks.

Even more attitude is the pianist’s attitude to his homeland, his profession and his colleagues:

Believe it or not, but in our two-room apartment on Lenin Street in Irkutsk, the same featherbed I used to sleep on when I was a little boy is still there. Besides that, I refuse to let the apartment be refurbished. Everything there is the way it was nearly 30 years ago. Even my favorite toy lion sporting green overalls is still intact. And there is no place in the world where I can sleep better than at home. Home, sweet home.

Do you know how many recitals I did last year? Read my lips – 264! I enjoy touring the world provided I know that my home country waiting for me. In contrast to many other people in my profession I’ve never had any second or third passports or residence permits. I’ve never made arrangements for any “safe havens” elsewhere. Although I can tell you that getting Israeli citizenship would not be a great problem for me, because my mother is half-Jew. But it never occurred to me to do that. Why should I? And my daughter Anna, who is about to turn one, is a Russian citizen. This is a matter of fundamental importance.

It is true that the world’s attitude to Russia has changed, but my foreign tours still gather capacity audiences, and I don’t feel that the people have begun to react differently. There’s never been anything like this.

Read on here.

photo © Sergei Zhukov/TASS


  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    So quarter Jews can also become Israeli citizen? That’s new to me.

    • John Borstlap says:

      It depends upon WHICH quarter. At the registration offices for nationality applications, there hangs a big schedule with the human form divided in four equal parts, from top to bottom. According to the skills of the applicant, the appropriate quarter is then located and specified. I know of a violinist who had just the right quarter at the right place as Jewish and she was accepted immedately (she was beautiful and well-endowed). Her boyfriend however, who was a brilliant physicist, had only Jewish legs and was refused. I thought that was not quite fair.

      • Anon says:

        Now that’s unfortunate, but I heard there was a 7/16 Jew, a very talented timpanist, who messed up the rhythm at his immigration and had to go to the waiting room for the 3/8 Jews, it was quite a diminution for him.

      • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

        What about those with a Jewish ass? Are they also qualified?

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Matsuev, not Matuev. A great guy.

  • Anon says:

    Can somebody explain to me what a half-Jew is? I always was under the impression that the Nazis did not win that war against the Soviet Union, but now I’m not sure anymore.

  • Alexander says:

    you, Norman, are an influencer for sure 😉 … somehow I am almost in the mood to go for his Rachmaninoff cycle ( hopefully with Gergiev) …. somewhere in November or so …. a lot of money he will ask I think 😉

  • Steinway Fanatic says:

    Matsuev is a keyboard basher and a hideous musician. There isn’t a musical bone in his body.

    • Mark Henriksen says:

      For a guy who is a “hideous musician” he sure gets a lot of gigs!

      Seriously, why shouldn’t he be proud to be Russian. Its a great country; there is a lot to admire about its artistic legacy.

  • Analeck Kram-Hammerbauer says:

    May I light up two candles, one for Nelson and the other for Cyril Blair?