Denis Matsuev: The things I tell Putin

Denis Matsuev: The things I tell Putin


norman lebrecht

October 01, 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.



  • David Nice says:

    Funny, isn’t it, the way of the artists who sell their souls to the dark master. They’re heavyweights, and not in a good way. Matsuev has always been a basher, and Gergiev seems to be sinking under the ponderousness of his own more recent performances. No matter; we have Russian and Ukrainian pianists in abundance who are all infinitely better than DM: Kolesnikov, Kozhukhin, Sudbin, Giltburg, Melnikov, Trifonov, Gavrylyuk, to name but a few and in particular order of transcendence (horses for courses).

  • Herr Doktor says:

    I’ll admit to also not being a musical fan of DM, having heard him live twice. But what I can respect about him is that I really do believe he loves music and the cause of music, and within his own limitations is a serious musician. And credit the man for having a sense of humor.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Maybe it sounds better in Russian or in the context of the whole interview, but it reads like someone trying very hard to assert his loyalty.

    A Russian’s daughter is a Russian citizen? Was that somehow in doubt that it had to be brought up?