Mikhail Vasilievich Pletnev (Russian: Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв, Mikhail Vasil'evič Pletnëv; born 14 April 1957) is a Russian concert pianist, conductor, and composer.
Life and career
Pletnev was born into a musical family in Arkhangelsk, then part of the Soviet Union. His father played and taught the bayan, and his mother was a pianist. He entered the Central School of Music at the age of 13, studying under Evgeny Timakin, and, in 1974, entered the Moscow Conservatory, studying under Yakov Flier and Lev Vlassenko. At age 21, he won the Gold Medal at the VI International Tchaikovsky Competition in 1978, which earned him international recognition and drew great attention worldwide. The following year he made his debut in the United States. He also taught at the Moscow Conservatory. Pletnev has acknowledged Sergei Rachmaninoff as a particularly notable influence on him as a musician.
In 1988, Pletnev was invited to perform at the superpower conference in Washington, D.C., where he met and befriended Mikhail Gorbachev. From this friendship, he gained the support to found two years later the Russian National Orchestra in 1990, the first non-government-supported orchestra in Russia since 1917, and became its first principal conductor. He and the orchestra made their recording debut on Virgin Classics, releasing Tchaikovsky's Sixth Symphony and Marche Slave in 1991. He stepped down as Principal Conductor in the late 1990s, but remained the orchestra's artistic director. Mikhail Pletnev was principal guest conductor of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana in Lugano, Switzerland from 2008 to 2010.
Pletnev has made a number of recordings with Deutsche Grammophon. His recordings are mostly of Russian works, though in 2007 he recorded the complete Beethoven symphonies. The first works he recorded were for orchestra, including Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty, his "Pathétique" Symphony and Manfred Symphony, and Rachmaninoff's Second and Third Symphonies. His piano repertoire is extensive and includes The Seasons, many Scarlatti sonatas, Pictures at an Exhibition as well as his own transcriptions of suites from The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty. With Pentatone, Pletnev has also recorded Russian works, such as all of Tchaikovsky's symphonies, Shostakovitch's symphonies no. 15 and 11, and Sergei Taneyev's At the Reading of a Psalm.
In July 2010, Pletnev, a resident of Thailand, was arrested by Thai authorities in connection with allegations of child molestation. Pletnev, who was released on bail, denied the charges. He cancelled appearances at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival in order to prepare his defense, but the charges were dropped on 28 September.
Awards and recognitions
- 1978: Gold Medal and First Prize Tchaikovsky Competition Moscow
- 1995: State Prize First Class of the Russian Federation by President Boris Yeltsin
- 1999: Echo Klassik (Skrjabin)
- 2001: Echo Klassik (Live at Carnegie Hall)
- 2002: State Prize First Class of the Russian Federation by President Vladimir Putin
- 2005: Grammy Awards of 2005 Best Chamber Music Performance with Martha Argerich
- 2005: European Conductor's Prize
- 2005: Triumph, Prize by the independent Russian foundation Triumph-Nowy-Wek
- 2006: State Prize First Class of the Russian Federation for the year 2005 by President Vladimir Putin