Putin puppets line up a Rachmaninov competition

Putin puppets line up a Rachmaninov competition


norman lebrecht

November 29, 2021

The Russian pianist Denis Matsuev and conductor Valery Gergiev have announced a Rachmaninov competition for pianists and conductors to be held in Moscow next June.

Matsuev will preside over the piano section. Gergiev will organise the conductors.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova is chair of the organizing committee.

Matsuev and Gergiev are willing executioners of President Putin’s orders.




  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Denis Matsuev and Gergiev are more than “puppets” and you can go see them in concerts without giving support to Putin. I did that several times and I will continue because they are great artists in russian music. Concerts abroad for them are not meetings.

    • Karl says:

      Denis Matsuev is very popular in Montreal. He stuns the audience with his technique. It doesn’t make me a fan of Putin though. For some reason.

      • Fliszt says:

        Pulverizing the keyboard is not technique. Matsuev’s approach to the piano is harsh and crude, and has nothing to do with music-making.

      • Concertgebouw79 says:

        Personally I prefer the Rachmaninov of Yeol Eum Son but we must respect Matsuev the artist and the man.

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    This is one of the silliest headlines ever, why on earth do you suggest this is a bad thing ‘ Putin’s puppets’ really what are on??? This is anti-Russia phobia got worse.

    • Brettermeier says:

      “This is anti-Russia phobia got worse.”

      Putin is NOT Russia, you know? But it appears he successfully convinced you otherwise.


  • PS says:

    I generally like the sound that Matsuev gets from a piano and that Gergiev gets from an orchestra, but when he’s conducting he looks like he’s having an orgasm during a seizure. How will these conductors be judged I wonder.

  • Another orchestral musician says:

    Putin Puppets? Ok we know this blog is kind of antirussian, but come on, the headline is ridiculous.

    • HugoPreuss says:

      Why is this ridiculous? Those are the facts:
      1. Putin is a dictator who murders his critics at will.
      2. There are plenty of Russian musicians who keep their distance to Putin.
      3. There are musicians (like Gergiev) who are very close to him.
      4. These people can be called Putin Puppets.
      This is not antirussian, it is anti-Putin and pro-democracy.

  • Piano fan says:

    Matsuev is nothing more than a banger (not piano, always fortissimo) and Rachmaninoff would be spinning at his grave at this phone “competition.”

  • Nijinsky says:

    It’s so amazingly interesting [not] how Putin is supposed to be responsible for everything the Russian “intelligence” bureau does, it’s also quite astounding how many people seem to “know” that Putin is totally in control, and how much is his fault, and he could have prevented; but in contrast when the President of the USA doesn’t get himself assassinated “knowing” and exposing what the CIA does, there’s not concern.

    Can it just be two people are interested in music, because if you transpose this “relationship” to many other countries and their “interests,” there REALLY might worse going on in “comparison.”

  • Plush says:

    Matsuev is a great pianist and insightful artist. I don’t agree that he should be tarred and feathered here. Russia is a different kind of place than London.

  • Robert says:

    Ridiculous anti-Russia nonsense.
    They are both high level artists.
    If they are ‘Putin’s puppets’, you are apartheid Israel’s mouthpiece, Norman.

    • M2N2K says:

      If only all of the Islamic Arab countries surrounding Israel were as “apartheid” as Israel is, where an Arab is a Supreme Court Justice and an Arab party is in the governing coalition, Middle East would have been a much better and certainly more peaceful place.

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    It might be worthwhile to find out what you would say, (in the unlikely situation) of Nadine Dorries funding an arts festival in the UK devoted to Purcell, Elgar or Britten, would you call musicians the puppets of Boris Johnson????

    • IC225 says:

      There was a rumour a couple of years back that the UK govt was supposedly going to do just this – it was (incorrectly) described as a “Festival of Brexit”. Despite being non-existent, it was universally derided by pretty much the entire UK arts sector – the point being that while artists here may be gullible, and are certainly naive, they are emphatically not nationalistic. I’m never wholly convinced that some high-profile Russian musicians can say the same.

      • Dave says:

        Festival 2002 UK is a Festival of Brexit that they’re too embarrassed to call that, for the very reason that by the time it happens any mention of Brexit will have people checking the bottom of their shoes.

  • Nurhan Arman says:

    Ridiculous headline! Good for them to organize a Rachmaninoff competition and what’s wrong with that?!

  • Nicholas says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, I enjoy reading your entertaining, insightful, opinionated, learned articles, blogs and books despite your Russophobia, but why must you test me? At least you have sufficient liberality to allow pointed criticisms at your direction, so I’ll continue to read.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      I am incurably Russophile. That gives me an obligation to call out Putin’s murders and corruption and to indict his musical puppets (both of whom I know personally).

    • Factual says:

      Norman is factually correct, there is nothing -philic or -phobic in his headline or post, he is simply stating the fact. Both musicians are incredibly well financed by Putin’s government in exchange for being what Norman called them. Btw, both openly put their signatures in support of Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and annexation of a portion of Ukraine’s territory. They are an insult to everything Sergey Rachmaninoff has ever been.

  • IP says:

    Piano competition = Russian girls + Rachmaninov. Nothing new under the sun.

  • chrisd says:

    This an British website about music, but since the editor calls Putin an executioner, here is a reminder. This century Britain has assisted in the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Syria. The unpaid money it owes Iran, now constitutes theft. Britain is a corrupt country as confirmed recently by its Prime Minister’s denial. Putin and Iran saved Syria from ISIS despite Britain’s opposition.

  • Rob says:

    Lugansky doesn’t seem to be in this apparent clique. His teacher showed everyone how to play Tchaikovsky 1….


  • Marina Veiler says:

    The stupidest thing I read today. Both a world renowned absolute top musicians. Putin puppets? What this has to do with politics? I know them both personally and heard them conduct and play many times – the are both geniuses! Does the fact that they are patriots of their country give you a right to write this nonsense? I didn’t know Slipped Disc was such a garbage. Unsubscribing and never reading a single article from here again. Disgusting.

  • Rick says:

    “Putin’s puppets”
    Is Slipped Disc a political website?
    Sounds more like the juvenile insults that are hurled in the comments section of The Hill.

    • M2N2K says:

      Not particularly political at all, but, like most if not all of them, it does have a point of view, which in this case is a perfectly reasonable one.