Tchaikovsky winner gets his first jump-in

Tchaikovsky winner gets his first jump-in


norman lebrecht

July 01, 2019

The Russian pianist Alexander Toradze was supposed to play Liszt concerto on Wednesday in Mikkeli, Finland

He has been replaced by the Tchaikovsky competition winner, Alexandre Kantorow.

The conductor? Gergiev, of course. The Mikkeli festival is his private fiefdom.

After Mikkeli, he will take Kantorow to Baden-Baden.


  • Mateo Cylindric says:

    I like Liszt’s concerto better than Beethoven’s.

  • With love from Russia says:

    So much poison on any Russian-related news. Just unbeleivable.

    The festival page says Toradze has cancelled his performance by himself. It is important to know here the pianist is Georgian and his decision might be motivated by the last political troubles Georgia vs Russia

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Part of the prize is concerts with Gergiev.

  • anon says:

    “The Mikkeli festival is his private fiefdom.”

    As Salzburg was Karajan’s, Lucerne Abbado’s, Bayreuth Thielemann’s…

    One can’t help but wonder if the winner had been British (and there have been 2 in its history), how this site would be covering the competition and the winner today.

    In this case, the winner is worse than Russian, he is, sacré bleu, Français.

    • Bill says:

      All we can do is wonder

    • Paul Carlile says:

      Shurely shome mishtake, shir….. if we count prizes ex-aequo at Moscow/Tchaik, the “Land ohne Musik” hasn’t done too badly:
      1) John Ogdon (1st with Vladimir Ashkenazy)

      2) John Lull (1st with V Krainev)

      3) Peter Donohoe (2nd with V Ovnickhinov- 1st prize not awarded)..

      4) Barry Douglas claims the honour of first prize outright, (N. Ireland).

      As you imply, c’est très différent, pour ne pas dire sulfureux…to ‘ave a Frenchie Français à l’honneur! Cherchez la femme…..oups, zere waz’nt a femme (fatale ou udderwize ….errhh, ow you spellit?) on ze jurie….ow Norman, ee goin’ to explain zis?

      Yaws fatefully.

  • anon says:

    Lexo Toradze is Georgian, born in Tbilisi.

  • Peter Schünemann says:

    Alexander Toradze was supposed to play Shostakovich’s 2nd Piano Concerto in Mikkeli. He was as well on the list of jury members for Tchaikovsky Competition, but had to cancel both events due to his doctor’s advice, not to fly.

    Mr Lebrecht, I think, it was in 2010, when you came to Gergiev’s “private fiefdom” Mikkeli to interview him for BBC. I was present, when you started with the words “Seppo Heikinheimo [the founder of Mikkeli Music Festival] made us friends”, and I remember, that you had during this 90 minutes long interview only two critical questions – whether Gergiev would be too close to power and whether he would think, that his way of rehearsals would be fair to the music and the musicians (I don’t remember your words exactly).

    From being a Gergiev friend to your Putin/Gergiev/Matsuev/Bashmet/Shchedrin bashing was obviously only a short way.

    Best regards from Mikkeli.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Mr Schünemann, Your memory is selective. I questioned Valery both in the formal interview and outside of it about his relationship with Vladimir Putin. He replied with half-truths. At the time, he was not fully corrupted by the Kremlin and could have turned either way. Soon after, he began to accept huge gifts from Putin and became, together with Matsuev, an unabashed apologist for human-rights and war crimes. Best wishes to Mikkel, a festival that was founded on Valery’s behalf by my friend Seppo and which became Gergiev’s fiefdom (as you well know) after Seppo’s death.

      • Peter Schünemann says:

        Mr Lebrecht, it is not true, that Mikkeli Music Festival was founded “on Valery’s behalf” by your friend Seppo. True is, that Seppo Heikinheimo had founded in his summer village Hirvensalmi a small festival called “Tervaleppä” with artists like Vladimir Ashkenazy and Alexey Lubimov (among others) participating. When Mikaeli, Mikkeli’s Concert and Congress House, was built in 1988, Seppo planned to switch this Chamber Music Festival to Mikkeli. The first Mikkeli Music Festival took place in 1992, one year before Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky Theatre took over in 1993 (the same year as his own St. Petersburg Festival “Stars of White Nights”) and brought artists like the singers Netrebko, Gorchakova, Borodina, Grigorian, Hvorostovsky and the instrumentalists Toradze, Repin, Khachatryan, Matsuev, Lang Lang (to name only few) to Mikkeli, “in the middle of nowhere” (Norman Lebrecht).

  • Tim says:

    Could it be that Gergiev may just recognise great playing when he hears it? The world is full enough of bias and misinformation without it popping up here as well. Lebrecht maybe hasn’t noticed that musicians don’t have these prejudices – they just get on with playing music.

  • Rob says:

    Here is Putin doing a Prokofiev impression, sans Gergive