The Russian pianist and conductor , Mikhail Pletnev [Michail Pletnjow; Russian: Михаил Васильевич Плетнев] began piano lessons at age 7 with Julia Shashkina in Kazan at the Central Special Music School. In 1974 he entered the Moscow Tchaikovsky-Conservatory as a student of Yevgeni Timaskin, and latter attended master-classes of with Yakov Flier and Lev Vlasenko at the Consevatory. In 1977 he won the All-Union Competition Pletnev. He was the Gold Medal and First Prize winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. This prize earned him early international recognition.
Mikhail Pletnev has performed throughout the USSR and Europe with worlds's leading orchestras. He has made tours of Italy, Scandinavia, Germany and Japan. He made his USA debut in 1979. In 1989 season he appeared in concerts with Riccardo Chailly at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, recitals at the Alte Oper, Frankfurt and concerts in Paris with Lorin Maazel. Futher engagements that season with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink, as well as recitals at the Elisabeth Hall in Lndon. He performed with Claudio Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker at the 1997 New Year's Eve Concert and the Europa Konzert 2000, both televised and broadcast world-wide from the Philharmonie in Berlin. He has also appeared as soloist with such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Riccardo Chailly, Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Kent Nagano, Kurt Sanderling, Christian Thielemann and Herbert Blomstedt.
The collapse of the Soviet system gave Mikhail Pletnev the historic opportunity (1990) to realize his long-held dream of forming an orchestra independent of the government, the Russian National Orchestra (RNO). Under his artistic leadership the RNO in less than a decade has become known as one of the world's leading orchestras. While his conducting career is primarily focused on the RNO, he also makes appearances as guest conductor with such prestigious orchestras as the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Sinfonieorchester Berlin, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. In September 1999 Pletnev became the RNO's Conductor Laureate and continues his collaboration with the orchestra in many of its recordings and concerts. In February 2003 he conducted the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra at the Berliner Konzerthaus for the official opening of the Russian Year of Culture in presence of Kanzler Schroeder and President Putin. That concert was televised throughout the whole European Union.
Mikhail Pletnev's recordings and live performances as pianist have proved him to be an outstanding interpreter of an extensive repertoire. His unrivalled transcriptions for piano of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and Sleeping Beauty were selected, along with his performance of Tchaikovsky's Second Piano Concerto and The Seasons, for the 1998 anthology "Great Pianists of the 20th Century" (Philips Classics). His album of Scarlatti's Keyboard Sonatas (EMI-Virgin Classics) received a Gramophone Award in 1996. BBC Music Magazine called this recording "piano playing at its greatest... this performance alone would be enough to secure Pletnev a place among the greatest pianists ever known." In 2005 he received the Grammy-Award for his transcription for two pianos of Prokofiev's Cinderella, together with Martha Argerich. Since 1996 he is recording exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon.
As a composer, Mikhail Pletnev's works include Classical Symphony, Quintet for Piano and Strings, Triptych for Symphony Orchestra, Fantasy on Kazakh Themes for Violin and Orchestra and Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra. In December 1998, the world premiere of his Concerto for Viola and Orchestra took place in Moscow with Yuri Bashmet as soloist.
Mikhail Pletnev's stature in Russia was formally recognized in 1995 when he was awarded the First State Prize of the Russian Federation by President Yeltsin an honour, that was again bestowed on him in 2002 by President