Breaking: Moscow fires famed conductor

Breaking: Moscow fires famed conductor


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2022

The Russian National Orchestra has terminated its contract with its founder and artistic director Mikhail Pletnev.

Pletnev, its says, has lived since January 2021 in Switzerland and has become a Swiss citizen. ‘Since the end of 2020, there has been practically no creative contact between the orchestra and its artistic director,’ according to the orchestra management.

Recently, the Russian authorities fired Pletnev’s trusted RNO director Svetlana Rips, replacing her with Irina Shigoreva. Pletnev, who has refrained from comment about the Ukraine war, is assembling a new orchestra of Russian expatriates.

Mother Russia has just burned another of its cultural assets.


  • Roland says:

    Pletnev did not hold back with his attitude against the war in Ukraine, so the Russian reaction was expected. The Russian National Orchestra will welcome him with open arms again when Russia has freed itself from the corrupt terrorist gang of Putin, Medwedew and Lawrow which is only a question of time.

  • J says:

    If mother Russia does not manage to burn a cultural asset, this site will try to do (of course not calling it “cultural asset”).

  • Malatesta says:

    Er, um… you’ve a pretty short memory, Norman. Pletneyev has form; he had a beach house in Thailand and was charged there with serious offences against minors. He was on better terms then with the Kremlin who eventually interceded to get him off.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      He was not charged with any offences. There is evidence this was a set-up by rival oligarchy factions. The Kremlin did nothing. The whole story reeks.

    • Sandro says:

      I remember the story well.
      Glad you mentioned it.

    • Micaela Bonetti says:

      Signor (Anonymus) Malatesta, please note SD is no tribunal, in case you haven’t noticed it.

      Mala testa. Testa mala.
      In italiano: testa maligna, testa malata.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Once again: he was never charged. You are accusing an innocent man, which is a serious offence.

      • MacroV says:

        You could just delete such comments. At least after the first such.

      • Zum Beispiel says:

        Was Gergiev charged?

      • Bratsche Brat says:

        That’s correct that it’s a serious offence. Child molestation is not a wokeist offence, it is an extremely serious felony. If Pletnev has come out and said in clear terms that he is innocent, I’d be really happy to stop accusing him of these crimes. If I’ve missed this, please let me know and I will most definitely cede.

        Otherwise, the logical conclusion is simply that he’s lawyered up to avoid jail time for his heinous crimes.

    • Thomas M. says:

      And, btw, charges aren’t PROOF. I can charge you with anything my heart desires, would that make you guilty automatically, too?

      • Bratsche Brat says:

        If I didn’t come out immediately and publicly state that I was innocent, then it would be fair game for the public to presume I was guilty, yes.

  • Rob says:

    The greatest pianist alive today.

  • MacroV says:

    A pity, as the RNO at its best is an extraordinary orchestra, and while I don’t know their politics, they always struck me as the most western-friendly of the many Russian orchestras I followed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pletnev is followed out the door by many of its members, though they gotta work, I suppose.

  • Bratsche Brat says:

    Russia burned bridges with a child molester…

  • V says:

    Pletnev is actually condemning the war. Here’s some excerpts from the latest interview.

    Q. How difficult was it to preserve that independence?

    ——- Pletnev: Very difficult. Putin’s government wants to have everything under control. That’s why they want us to become a state orchestra. But Putin is not the cause of the problem, he is only a consequence. The problem is that the Russians have not yet made their way to democracy. It’s been that way since 1917, when Russia briefly went that way, but the Communists and the Bolsheviks stopped it with their iron fiest immediately. Slave psychology still prevails. Without Stalin or some other firm hand, the Russians don’t know what to do. Democracy is a place they have not been to yet.

    Q. So you’ve created a project where music continues to connect people. Do you want to show that culture and art do not belong to states and politics?

    ———Pletnev: You can never beat a crime with another crime. War is a crime regardless of who started it, who is right and who is wrong. Wars are driven by the desire for revenge, and that does no one any good. If you want to break that cycle, you have to do something good, not multiply the crime. The good I can do is my music. Who start wars? Stupid politicians. There is no normal human being who likes war. But politicians have propaganda and manipulation in their hands, and they use it only for their own benefits, not for us.

  • Micaela Bonetti says:

    I would say that it’s surely not RNO musicians who fired a conductor they love, praise and feel gratitude for, but instead new director Mrs Shigoreva and potenti behind.

    I feel deeply sad for orchestra musicians now orphans and for Maestro Pletnëv, and wish them the most sparkling musical adventures they deserve!

  • Tamino says:

    The new ethical knighthood: being fired by Moscow. All cleared with the armchair moralists in the west.
    But it‘s a thin line to live by: being fired by Moscow and NOT falling from a hospital window or consuming Polonium with one‘s tea.

    • Amos says:

      The ethical knighthood is attained by denouncing the slaughter of innocent women and children as well as men who have been tortured, shot in the head and dumped in a mass grave. I assume that there is a shortage of 6th floor windows and Polonium or they would be the preferred method of addressing dissent. By the by moralizing about war crimes can be carried out standing, sitting or reclining. Be sure to greet Comrade H warmly at the next disinformation conference.

      • Tamino says:

        Moralizing against war crimes is always the just cause, but the higher one sits on the moral horse, the higher is the fall into being hypocritical and ridiculous for not applying the moral standards equally.

        Just saying, hundreds of thousands of US made innocent war victims in Iraq and elsewhere later. And we are only talking the last 20 years here.

        It‘s never about the people, democracy and human rights, it‘s always about „interests“.

    • Claudio says:

      I do not think that Pletnev is one who knew too much and moreover, he did not have tight relations with Gazprom.
      The one who should be worried, is Currentzis.

  • Claudio says:

    Such Moscow reaction was expected, and I guess even by Pletnev, when he started gathering orchestra in Europe.

    Hope he won’t get ostracized just for being russian, though.

  • MMcGrath says:

    I’m sure Mr Pletnev could write his own contract with any western orchestra. And I’m sure he’d be welcomed.

  • Anon says:

    I am genuinely puzzled by Slipped Disc’s reluctance to allow comments about Mr. Pletnev’s Thailand accusations. Whether one agrees or not, it merits discussion. Let readers decide for themselves.

    By refusing to allow most reader comments on this subject, the only explanation I can come up with is that there must be somehow fear of retribution from powerful allies in Russia.

    This casts an even more nefarious spectre over Mr. Pletnev than if you’d just allow readers to discuss the accusations openly.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      We allow comments. We do not permit defamatory lies, least of all from anonymous sources.

    • MacroV says:

      You can debate opinions; you don’t debate facts. Allowing this topic here is just to keep a slander alive. Norman should be deleting all of it, and kicking people off if they persist.

  • K says:

    Pletnev mentioned in the same breath as Currentiz? Heaven and hell, if meant as a compare and contrast conceit.

  • Save the MET says:

    This has been brewing for months. Pletnev would not comply with the propaganda surrounding Putins war. that said, he has mostly lived outside of Russia and in Thailand for years. Albeit his now quashed pedophile charges.