I have heard Mikhail Pletnev as a solo pianist, as a performer of concerti, and as a conductor. And…. I admire him greatly as a creative musician.
While I may occasionally be surprised by his interpretation, I like musicians to take risks, vary from the usual and try to explore new ways that may bring the listener closer to what the composer intended.
The skill of Pletnev’s pianism is enormous; he displays astonishing precision, power and control of dynamics; he clearly knows exactly what he is doing and wants to do. Sometimes he will deliberately and ironically punctuate the music. On other occasions he might introduce sudden, emphatic riterdandos, as in the rondo of the “Emperor” concerto. These are precisely the methods that allow me to listen afresh to the music.
Christian Gansch and the excellent Russian National Orchestra stay connected with him in these performances and play beautifully. The live sound is outstanding, and I particular enjoyed the rich, sound of the Blüthner grand piano that Pletnev prefers. For me these performances provide a freshness, inventiveness, and different flavors that provide new insight into Beethoven’s masterpieces.
Here is Soloist Mikhail Pletnev performing the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 2, with the late Claudio Abbado conducting: