Pletnev receives 2nd-class Russian honour

Pletnev receives 2nd-class Russian honour

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norman lebrecht

December 21, 2020

The pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev has been awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, second degree, at a concert marking the 30th anniversary of his Russian National Orchestra.

The award was made by the minister of culture, Olga Lyubimova.

Vladimir Putin, who usually turns out for top Russian musicians, sent no message.

Pletnev, 63, has maintained his marginality and independence in the Russian kleptocracy.

 

 

 

Comments

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Can’t comment on his conducting, but Pletnev is an incredible pianist. I remember being awed by his Pictures a few years ago and yesterday heard an old live recording of Islamey from Carnegie Hall. The precision, filigree fingerwork, colours and invention were extraordinary. Afterwards, it transpired it was the fifth encore he’d played that evening. The man is a phenomenon.

  • Pedro says:

    The best opus 111 since Michelangeli in London, c. 1990. And I have heard the work live by Brendel, Pollini, Leonskaia, Pires, etc.

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    “Second-class” makes it sound as if it isn’t that important. In fact as you say, it is “second degree”, i.e. the second highest out of four degrees.

  • MacroV says:

    I saw him conduct the Russian National Orchestra a bunch of times about 15 years ago. I don’t know if he’s a great conductor, but it’s an extraordinary orchestra – Russia’s best at that time, IMHO – so you figure he’s at least not doing a lot of damage.

    • Hayne says:

      “…so you figure he’s at least not doing a lot of damage.”
      That is so true! There should be an Hippocratic oath for new student conductors. “First do no harm…”

  • JD says:

    What about all of his troubles in Thailand? I guess that those are overlooked if one plays a good and grand work for the piano. The man got off from the incident in Thailand and I believe another in Hong Kong. I’m sorry but I if was not the Russian head of arts at the time for Putin, he would be in a prison cell. Pay to see an “alleged” pedophile…I cannot think of anything worse.

    • Fliszt says:

      He willingly submitted to due process, and was cleared by the Thai courts. Next time, report the entire story – not just the part that suits your agenda

      • JD says:

        I said that if he wasn’t the head of the arts for Russia and Putin the outcome would have been entirely different. I didn’t write what fits my agenda. He has been accused before and why on Earth would he choose the one place that is know the world over for child porn and the trafficking of minors. Unless you’re his friend, I wouldn’t hold up someone regardless of artistic merit for his long held predilections.

      • Occamsrazor says:

        “Next time, report the entire story – not just the part that suits your agenda”. The entire story always helps. He was a subject of 2 investigations and similar sordid charges in Russia way before the Thai thing.They involved other people from the higher socioeconomic bracket. He was cleared of the charges. Now, about his purchase of Thai real estate. Imagine being the subject of 2 investigations dealing with cocaine trafficking plus long being followed by rumors of this activity. You manage to escape these charges,whether true or false. Then you purchase real estate in Medellin.PS.The really interesting aspect is the fact that he is a very talented musician but way more influential people have been found with signs of asphyxia while the surveillance cameras malfunctioned.

      • Nick2 says:

        Fliszt is totally accurate. It is utterly disgraceful that JD brings up a 10 year old case when Pletnev at his own expense returned to Thailand at least 6 times over several months for bail renewal hearings before being informed by the Courts there was no case for him to answer. As reported, he was determined to clear his name.

        Corruption is part of life in Thailand at all levels of society. Had he been guilty, a man of his wealth could easily have quickly paid off the authorities and no case would ever have been reported. Why would any man consider submitting to Thai justice for an offence for which he could find himself in jail for 15 years if there was even a trace of guilt?

        There is a great deal behind this alleged incident than has never been reported – endemic police corruption, the arrest of a man for a worse crime who was mysteriously able to flee police custody the day prior to their talking with Pletnev, the presence of more than one Russian mafia mob in that city, as there were on the island of Phuket. What was reported in the media was, apart from one or two responsible news outlets, garbage.

        Further there has never – ever – been any incident in Hong Kong. If you “believe” this rubbish JD, provide some form of proof re how you come to “believe” this. To repeat such nonsense in a public forum on a mere whim is virtually libellous.

        Pletnev is an extraordinary pianist. He himself formed the Russian National Orchestra and found those who could come up with the required funds since he had informed Gorbachev he would not seek state funding. I was at a wonderful concert in the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow a year or so after the Thailand incident. Sarah Chang performed the Sibelius Concerto and this was followed by the Manfred Symphony. Two of the guests of honour were the Thailand Ambassador and his wife. Had there been the remotest hint that Pletnev might have been guilty of any crime in Thailand, does JD or indeed anyone seriously believe the country’s Ambassador would have been allowed both to attend and then spend several minutes chatting with him in the green room after the concert?

        • Occamsrazor says:

          “Corruption is part of life in Thailand at all levels of society.” At the end of this post we are reading this: “does JD or indeed anyone seriously believe the country’s Ambassador would have been allowed both to attend and then spend several minutes chatting with him in the green room after the concert?” I’m not gonna comment on this because words fail. “ Had he been guilty, a man of his wealth could easily have quickly paid off the authorities and no case would ever have been reported.” Police are corrupt in various degrees everywhere but there are crimes which even the most rotten cops are unwilling to cover up for any amount of money. “There is a great deal behind this alleged incident than has never been reported – endemic police corruption, the arrest of a man for a worse crime who was mysteriously able to flee police custody”. I don’t know what company you keep but I’ve been fortunate to befriend people from all over the world and all levels of society. I’ve yet to meet a person who thinks that there can be a lower crime than the one Mr. Pletnev was accused of. A few crimes are worse but none are lower.
          “the presence of more than one Russian mafia mob in that city, as there were on the island of Phuket.” No dude, if you follow the news you know that them Russkies are everywhere. They couldn’t bother with framing Mr.Pletnev because they are always busy interfering with elections in nuclear superpowers and hacking their nuclear codes (and drinking of course, it’s a full time job in itself for us, everything else we do is a side job). “Why would any man consider submitting to Thai justice for an offence for which he could find himself in jail for 15 years if there was even a trace of guilt?” Imagine being framed for this crime in a corrupt foreign country. Would you risk ever going back for a taste of their justice system or would you stay in your country forever if necessary and consider yourself lucky if your government doesn’t extradite you? I don’t know about you but most men I know including myself would happily shoot themselves rather than being framed for 15 years in jail for this particular crime. The fact that he returned there can play in his favor only among the less astute individuals who lack understanding of how innocent or guilty people react. “If you “believe” this rubbish JD, provide some form of proof re how you come to “believe” this. To repeat such nonsense in a public forum on a mere whim is virtually libellous.” If you are asking for hard evidence you are not gonna get it from me but I’ll try to provide you with enough circumstantial evidence. PS. It’s been acutely pleasurable to comment on this post of Nick2. When I hear from any people that they ever visited Thailand, I’m thinking of only one thing. I sincerely apologize to the Thai people who have great and ancient history and culture but nowadays hearing about Thai vacations, let alone buying real estate there to practice piano in the summer makes people think of only one industry. If I told you that I bought a summer house in Medellin to practice piano, you would look more carefully at my nose to see if there is much left of the septum, wouldn’t you?

          • JD says:

            Wow! I didn’t bother to read all of that rubbish that must have taken quite a while to write. You should apply to be his PR manager or publicist. What a joke…

          • Marfisa says:

            JD – how could you tell if it was rubbish if you couldn’t be bothered to read it all? OccamsRazor (whom I neither attack nor defend) at least offers a different point of view, a different style, and different arguments. Perhaps he (or she) even knows about things others don’t.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            “ Perhaps he (or she) even knows about things others don’t.“. I don’t presume to have the native level English proficiency, let alone fancy myself another Jackie Collins. I don’t know more than any other Russian musician about this case. Pletnev has never been convicted but if you know how deeply the rabbit hole goes, the lack of convictions means little in most people’s eyes. All the circumstantial evidence points to his guilt. If one is ever indicted for a sex crime, he is convicted in the court of the public opinion. It may be unfair in the light of the false accusations pandemic but in the case of this particular crime it may still be prudent to abandon the presumption of innocence. Those who know how widespread the false charges of sexual crimes and domestic violence are, live in such a way as to minimize the chances of someone ever being able to frame them. Never once uttering the word Thailand in public, let alone buying real estate there would be a good start. PS.I would be delighted if Pletnev was innocent because I don’t want such talent to be compatible with such horrors.

        • Occamsrazor says:

          Here is an example of what happens in framing situations to regular Joe Shmoes. A Brooklyn rabbi once told me a story about his old Irish friend. The guy divorced his wife. After many years they got back together. She comes to his house, they have a few drinks and have a great time the way they used to. When they are out of cigarettes she says: ”Honey, would you run to the store and buy some?” When he comes back he is met by cops and his loving wifey, her blouse is torn and she is sporting a black eye ( she hit herself on the door frame). The guy is currently doing 10 years for rape. PS.Let me ask you something, Nick2. Do you have much experience with the world outside of classical music? Have you ever had any contact with the justice system, however small? Like getting pulled over for speeding or something, even if you went 5 miles over the limit? You might be the Pope for all I know and have not even experienced that. The more I think about it you might be the Pope judging by how vehemently you are defending an alleged sex offender…But in the case you have faced a cop once in your life for trivial stuff like having a beer on the street in your teens, do you remember how you felt? That sense of dread and helplessness after you are handcuffed and fingerprinted etc? Even though you knew you would be out in the morning with a desk appearance ticket? It’s because the human animal instinctively knows that absolutely anything can happen to you even within an hour in jail. Now imagine 15 such years for the crime that is universally the most despised by the incarcerated. Even the toughest of men dread even thinking about being framed for this. Pletnev is no Mike Tyson who was framed for rape and did time while the whole world knew it was a frame job. With the exception of a few European countries where every building is constructed of marzipan, prisons everywhere are indescribable hell even for honorable gangsters doing time for cool things like drugs, robberies etc. Why Mr. Pletnev returned to Thailand is very interesting. If he was facing certain extradition to be tried, the fact of his return would certainly play in his favor and allow him to maintain innocence to this day. If he had a chance to stay in Russia, hold a big press conference and inform the public about a nefarious framing attempt but didn’t use it and chose to return to Thailand, it’s a different story. I sincerely hope that the former scenario is the case. If it’s the latter and you still don’t understand the reason why he returned, don’t count on me to explain you why. In that case you have a lot to learn about how the world works and you need to take some life 101 course, maybe drink some booze and swear while walking down the street, if this doesn’t entice the cops maybe take a leak at the corner or something…

          • Nick2 says:

            So JD thinks it’s all a joke! Yet he knows virtually nothing and spreads mere rumour and innuendo. He can not even tell us any detail of the fiction he made up about Hong Kong. I worked there for 38 years. Never once, I’ll repeat, was there ever any word in Hong Kong about any such scandal. Not once!

            And what a load of nonsense by Occamsrazor, someone who clearly has little idea what happened ten years ago! I am glad only about one thing, though. The mention of “alleged” offence. Better would have been “alleged and then found not guilty after his reputation had been trashed around the world, concerts and tours cancelled etc.”

            You suggest “If he had a chance to stay in Russia, hold a big press conference and inform the public about a nefarious framing attempt but didn’t use it and chose to return to Thailand, it’s a different story.”

            Fact, he was crucified by the Russian media when the matter became public there and he arrived back in Moscow some days later. The same was true virtually worldwide. No, that is not my word. That is the description of a Russian friend in Moscow who contacted me. That was after he had been permitted to leave the country.

            That crime is abominable anywhere. In Thailand, no one gets bail if they are accused with evidence. They are in jail and their passports confiscated. In this case the Courts mandated bail of less than $10,000, he was permitted to keep his passport and leave the country six times before being informed there was no case. The fact is there was never one shred of evidence!

            I am sure your description of jail is pretty accurate. Of Thai jails I expect much worse. So why plead innocence and fight a corrupt system given that your name and reputation are going to be trashed? Why not just pay up and let the authorities trash the file?

            For your information, classical music plays a small part in my life – not that that should make the slightest iota of difference in this particular thread.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            “For your information, classical music plays a small part in my life – not that that should make the slightest iota of difference in this particular thread”. Actually it makes you a lot more credible in my eyes because musicians in general are some of the least trustworthy people. Yes, in my eyes he is an alleged offender only. There is a real and not a fake pandemic of false accusations of sex crimes in Russia, USA and many other countries. 2 weeks ago a buddy of mine, a working class black guy in his 50s was accused of rape by his mentally ill neighbor woman. He is poor and can only get a public defender ( they often do much better jobs and for free than the scumbag lawyers charging fortunes). We have been calling him every day and he doesn’t answer, probably unconscious drunk most of the time. He knows what it’s like in jail. After knowing him for 20 years the chances of him being guilty of any such impropriety are zero. Such cases have become the routine, it’s like hearing someone got a parking ticket. I used to teach in music schools and after they started to order the teachers to keep the doors open while giving lessons to lessen the likelihood of sexual offenses charges, I knew the game was over, at least for me. I gave up on this teaching shit entirely 20 years ago both because I cannot suffer the indignity of being daily presumed a sex offender and listening thru open doors to a dozen happy birthdays and Bach inventions at the same time, taught by other potential rapists. PS.I strongly advise against visiting Thailand for any reason, just in case. It’s plain stupid.

  • Edgar Self says:

    He’s a master pianist, transcriber, and good conductor; I’ve seen him live in all capacities, playing “Islamey” here the same sason as Ivo Pogoreli (h) played it. He t andanscribed Tcchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” for solo piano, has wonderful recordings of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures”, Tchaikovsky’s “Seasons or Months”, and Rachmaniinoff’s Paganini Rhapsody. A beautiful version, especially his earlier one for Virgin, of Chopin’s posthumous C-sharp minor Nocturne, the one Milstein transcribed for violin.

    I saw him conduct his Russian NationalOrchestra in a crackling “Russlan nd Ludmilla” Overture by Glinka, and value his CD of the Manfred Symphony.

    In chamber music, Brahms’s clarinet sonatas with Michael Collins and Tchaikovsky’s piano trio. I’ve followed his career since he was a teenager, and remember photos of him standing with Nikolayeva as Horowitz played in the Tchaikovsky museum during his historic visit to Moscow.

    Lev Vlasenko, one of Pletnev’s teachers at Moscow Conservatory, said it was easier to play four recitals than give one lesson to Pletnev.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      And he recorded all three Tchiakovsky concerti!

    • Hilary says:

      and a composer , albeit not a very distinctive one.

      I say this because I think it informs his playing on some level. I particularly liked his magnetic way with slighter repertoire , like the Tchaikovsky‘s ‘Seasons’ .

  • Greg Bottini says:

    *Tchaikovsky*

  • Paul Smith says:

    My favorite pianist. He deserves a first degree order of merit for his Scarlatti and his Tchikovsky piano reductions. Speaking of which, it’s almost Christmas! I need to starting practicing his Nutcracker!

  • M2N2K says:

    His personality was always questionable to me and I don’t know enough of his conducting to have an informed opinion, but his piano playing has been outstanding since the 1980s.

    • Occamsrazor says:

      M2N2K, he is a phenomenal musician, in the company of those living pianists one can count on the fingers of two hands.This situation that will follow him forever doesn`t make me happy. There are thousands more deserving to carry such a cross. It`s too awful for words.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Receiving a 2nd class medal is something like marrying the sister of your great love.

  • It is a bit of an odd concept to give out honors with varying degrees appended. I presume there is no practical benefit with a “first” over a “second”.

    Does a “first” get free drinks?

    • Joel Kemelhor says:

      Mr. Holmen — I don’t know about civilian awards, but it’s said that a U.S. soldier known as a recipient of the Medal of Honor (equivalent to the Victoria Cross in the UK) never gets a bar bill.

  • a says:

    Thanks, Greg,for remembering Pletnev’s Tchaikovsky concertos, where he’s especially good in the second, uncut, with solo violin and cello joining for a trio in the slow movement.

    Stephen Hough played them all here with Chicago Symphony; Benno Moiseiwitsch, Donohoe, Shura Cherkassky also chmpioned the second,though Benno and Shura with Siloti’s disfiguring cuts.

  • M2N2K says:

    There are a few commenters here who apparently believe that the more words they write the more convincing their argument becomes, while quite often the opposite is true: diarrhea of verbosity reveals constipation of thought.

    • Nick2 says:

      Nonsense! How is one supposed to respond to those who peddle outright lies? With a plain “you’re wrong”? Or with an attempt to illustrate the detail of that wrong? Don’t be so stupid, please!

      • Occamsrazor says:

        Nick2, could you point out the outright lies?

      • Occamsrazor says:

        “Don’t be so stupid, please!” When one is stupid, he cannot stop being that way. It’s like stop having blue eyes. PS. The Russian internet in the early 2000s was full of the info about him being investigated in connection with a large scale trafficking operation. That was many years before the Thai affair. Very few people imagine how widespread this thing is. Your kind of defense of him is doing him more harm than my suspicions. As soon as I saw this article I knew that there was a chance that someone would bring up all the crap and it wouldn’t be me. I only joined this conversation after I saw how the people started to defend him after the JD’s post. The only sensible thing in this situation where you wanna do damage control is to keep silence and ignore the accusations. Pathetic defense is like pouring gas on fire. If there was only that post by JD or anyone else’s who wished to air this, I would’ve never said a thing.

        • Marfisa says:

          “The Russian internet in the early 2000s was full of the info about him being investigated in connection with a large scale trafficking operation.” That is certainly something I did not know, and maybe others didn’t know it either.

          I cannot help reflecting that in ancient Athens, the ‘cradle of western democracy’, for an adult man to be in love with an adolescent boy was quite normal, and considered to be beneficial for both parties. Adult male love affairs, however, were frowned on. Tempora mutantur …

          • Occamsrazor says:

            Marfisa, I think Ancient Greek history and philosophy may have been created by Jesuits in the Middle Ages. History farther back than 15 minutes is pretty much meaningless. If you look at the architecture of the great European cities you have to ponder how kings, tsars and their peasants, all suffering from scurvy and lice etc, waging eternal wars were able to create everywhere such magnificence and precision without electricity, modern high speed alloys, diamond saws etc needed to cut granite. Our present technology only allows us to build reinforced concrete boxes. The sheer number of organs(musical instruments)in Europe is also suspect. Building even a single organ without modern instruments and extensive knowledge of many industries is hardly possible, let alone having them in every town. Finding antique tools, lathes etc older than 200 years is very difficult while cities precisely created out of millions of tons of hard rock are still standing. As for the alleged Greek deviance, this might be the reflection of the tastes of those who wrote the so-called history. Widespread deviance in a particular tribe is a not so gentle Nature’s signal that this genome has accumulated enough dna mutations as to stop procreating. Individual people are born and then they die, the same happens to nations. Celebrating pedophilia is like celebrating the last gasps of an individual, the only difference is that societal agony takes long decades and centuries and the mainstream media has enough time to market it as fashionable to the masses who cannot think ahead longer than the coming weekend. If things go as planned, pedophilia will be legal within a decade or 2. Sometimes one envies old people, they won’t be around to see the miserable end of our species.

          • Marfisa says:

            Dear OccamsRazor, you of all people should know that there were no Jesuits in the Middle Ages. But perhaps your next sentence explains everything.

          • Occamsrazor says:

            “Dear OccamsRazor, you of all people should know that there were no Jesuits in the Middle Ages. But perhaps your next sentence explains everything.” Hahaha, like I said, no reason to look back farther than 15 minutes. I’ve never had any interest in history. Even as a kid I could see nothing but conjecture sold as fact. History is the most dishonest of sciences while chemistry is honestly itself. I hardly ever rely on other people’s words about present situations. Why would I spend a minute on their opinions about who built the pyramids? Here’s another interesting thought: it’s almost impossible to find people today whose grandparents told them stories that they heard from their grandparents. Seems like that the generation born around 1820-1850 wasn’t inclined to tell their grandkids anything worth remembering, many of those grandkids who are or would be around 100 today, even 30-50 years ago when they were mentally sharp could hardly remember basic facts about them such as their grandmother’s maiden names.

          • Marfisa says:

            You should be renamed Berkeleysrazor: “This razor is sharper than Ockham’s: all entities are ruled out except those which are perceived” (Popper)

            We are living (many of us) in a post-literate age. Everything, even the content of books, is online, recorded digitally, so why bother to remember anything. Rote learning. learning by heart, was abolished in school rooms decades ago. Pre-literate cultures had specialists whose role was to remember genealogies and histories and pass on that knowledge to their successors to be remembered. Other overlapping specialists were (hi)story-tellers; the tales of the Odyssey and the Iliad were in the memories of singers for centuries before they were solidified as written texts. But even non-specialists, ordinary folk, would have a store of stories, and a working knowledge of several generations of ancestors and of their many-branched contemporary extended family. I find it hard to remember what a second cousin once removed actually is, let alone who any of mine (if I have any) are. You are right: western societies are in danger of disintegration.

            Your final sentence is a bit too hard on the over-70s; many have very well honed minds.

  • Occamsrazor says:

    Seems like even the history of the 19th century is fictional, created to cover up the facts which cannot be published without disintegration of society. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer We can now easily wage a nuclear war but we cannot even dream about building another Vienna, St.Petersburg, Paris, Buenos Aires etc. The evidence of past technology being superior to ours is everywhere, yet it is written of to slave labor. Why not use our large prison populations to build another pyramid using copper chisels and ropes or another St.Petersburg out of granite without tungsten alloys and diamond saws?

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