an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

When a pianist quits Rachmaninov 3 in Moscow, there’s always another in the hall

Andrei Gavrilov refused to play the Rachmaninov D minor in Moscow last  night. The audience was told that he was not feeling well. Gavrilov posted something else on his Facebook page:


followed by:

They didn’t play the Rachmaninoff. They played the notes that did not even reminded me of Rachmaninoff. It was playing at the level of sick chickens, incubator imitating nightingales. It was a pity, confusion, shamelessly and impudently indefinitely. In addition there was the shameless blackmail and pressure from administration and a conductor who does not have even a Gypsy awareness of music that was supposed to bring me “Socialist rule” and “adequate social” behaviour  (i.e. play as “international indicator” music shit). Demonstrating this muck onstage, fed by most listeners, I ran away in shame and outrage.

No matter. Alexander Ghindin had come to hear Gavrilov playing. When Gavrilov defaulted, he stepped in. Probably, he wasn’t the only one in the hall who could play the Rach D minor unrehearsed.


The conductor was Dmitry Jurowsky, younger brother of Vladimir.

Our Moscow correspondent says it reminded him of Soviet times. The orchestra was mediocre and the attitude bad.

Here’s some more Rachmaninov from Ghindin. Pretty good, huh?

And here’s a first response from the musicians.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. which orchestra???

  2. Which orchestra was it?

  3. Emil Archambault says:

    Dmitri looks a bit less “serious” than his brother:

  4. Gavrilov played, and gave masterclasses at the Red Hedgehog in Highgate recently, an event which wasn’t publicised as vigorously as one might have imagined! I really warmed to him.

    • Yes, I went to this concert.

      His Chopin was eccentric but his Prokofiev fantastic.

      Very friendly & signed autographs afterwards.

  5. Moscow City Symphony (Russian Philharmonic), I would guess from a Google search on Ghindin and Gavrilov.

  6. Steve de Mena says:

    Did he really not play…or did he play and leave in disgust? It’s not clear from his poor English on his Facebook page?

    “Andrei Gavrilov: Deby – I knew they have substitute in case. I was clean. They ask me to feel free and calm if the will announce me sick so scared they were with my musical demands – I was fighting for congenial Rach. They did not accept it ( could not professionally coop with ). then I showed them that I can play “as they want” – went to stage and “pleased them” with a crashing bore. As soon a they were 100 percent happy with dead Rachmaninov – I left.”

  7. The picture and performance are by Ghindin. Gavrilov has a lot more hair. Ghindin has a receding hairline.

  8. > Did he really not play…or did he play and leave in disgust?

    He did not play. He left right before the concert, leaving all the audience who came in -18 temperature to listen to Rachmaninov.

    I have to testify that Russian Philharmonic is not Vienna but they are a nice bunch of musicians without any trace of snobbery and Dmitri IS a professional conductor.

    Gavrilov’s remaks (there are lots of them on his FB) towards the orchestra and conductor is unacceptable. I only hope he will not get away with it.


    Andrei Gavrilov, no doubt is a genius and the greatest living pianist. One just has to listen. When someone has ‘perfection’ in his mind and art for sure he cannot accept mediocrity. This is the grandeur and tragedy of a real Artist. Thank you.

    • Malcolm James says:

      In which case he should have turned down the gig it was when offered to him. He must have known about the orchestra and its reputation when he accepted it.

    • Gavrilov started rehearsals with the orchestra 3 days ago. 3 DAYS AGO, and then left right at the time of the beginning of gig.
      What an asshole.

      I was there yesterday and I have to admit the orchestra wasn’t the best in world for sure, but Ghindin was really good. He started a little bit akward and kinda hiding behind the orchestra but seemed much more relaxed during 2nd part and finished with remarkable energy and devotion, definitly leading the orchestra!
      It was very nice to witness communcation between him and conductor. They were looking at each other very cautiously all the time)) But they’ve managed to capture tempos on fly – everything went seamlessly.

      Thanks, Alexander.

    • When Alexander finished, some old ladies sitting right behind me started screaming like young girls “To hell Gavrilov! Bravo, Ghindin!” That was nice)

      Everyone should check Ghindin’s recordings of ORIGINAL versions of Rach 1 and Rach 4 –

  10. I am divided on this.

    I have great admiration towards both pianists. Sasha Ghindin is one of the best in the world. I conducted him in Rachmaninov 2nd two years ago in Moscow and his approach to Rachmaninov is very special.

    Andrei Gavrilov is also a very special musician. Rachmaninov 3rd is a difficult score for the pianist, conductor and the orchestra. Who knows what happened or what emotions surfaced at the last minute that Andrei couldn’t go on with it. How difficult it is to have to play a concerto of this magnitude if there is no good rapport between the parties.

    So I find it hard to blame Andrei but our code of professionalism requires that we do it regardless. This is not easy for every artist. We should not be too quick to condemn Andrei as there are no losers here. The hero of the night is Sasha of course and I am sure the audience got more than a good performance. Bravo!

    C’est la vie!

  11. Hmm, it does sound like Gavrilov threw all his toys out the pram at the last possible minute. Surely if you are a professional pianist, it is at the rehearsals that such disagreements/unhappiness should be aired? If you are going to pull out – that’s the point to do it. Whereas to do so at an even later stage strikes me as having no regard whatsoever for the audience who’ve paid to see you – and it appears they made their feelings very clear about that at the concert! Bravo Mr Ghindin for stepping in.

  12. Rafael de Acha says:

    Oh, dear! What a jackass! Dear Comrade Andrei sounds a bit stressed (not to mention his English grammar)…He ought to take an aspirin, get a good night’s rest and call his doctor in the morning…after which, hopefully, he’ll grow up.

  13. They say Gavrilov fled to the airport to leave Russia asap, the fees having been paid to him prior to the concert

  14. Eric Carlson says:

    If in fact he fled with the fee after refusing to play the concert, he is truly a despicable human being. To steal the orchestra’s money and then bad mouth them on his way out the door is beneath contempt.

  15. Svetlana Mityushina says:

    I’m not a musician, and my English leasves much to be desired – I just want to say that I’m greatly surprised that Mr. Norman Lebrecht didn’t mention the feelings of the public. I thought that disregard for common people was the tipical feature of Sovok (former The USSR). I bought the tickets to Gavrilov at the beginning of October, not cheap ones- never mind – he really plays once a year in public Moscow places and I counted day to hear him. And I’ve come to his concert on a rather frosty day with totally stuck Moscow traffic. Don’t I deserve to see him on the stage saying everything,or at least, SOMETHING to me in face? I’m not an idiot and I don’t want “dead” Rakhmaninov music and a musician playing as a slave of the conductor or orchestra, I just want a piece of respect…My idea is that if you hadn’t the courage to meet the public (your fans), you have no right to make the story public and say that somebody, but you is SOVOK. And my respect to Gindin – he really saved us!

  16. YouTube has a very fresh ( 4 weeks “old” ) 38 minutes long video of Gavrilov dress rehearsal with St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra before Seoul concert. . I will refrain from commenting on it – but well worth watching :-) It will give ammunition to both sides of argument, no doubt.

  17. Иван Скоблов says:

    Гаврилов гавно как пианист. Полная утрата профессиональных способностей. Лжец, клеветник. И чрезвычайно жадный до денег человек. И он не раз кидал и слушателей и оркестры. Один из последних случаев – во Владимире, когда он тоже отказался играть. К тому же сбежал через пожарный выход с деньгами, которыми потребовал выплатить ему заранее, перед концертом. Пусть вернет деньги Алекасндру Гиндину, который оказался в зале и сыграл блистательно и гениально за Гаврилова 3 концерт Рахманинова. А Гаврилова, если он деньги не вернет, мы достанем из его Швейцарии. Мир весьма мал и тесен на самом деле.

  18. Иван Скоблов says:

    Gavrilov [redacted]. One of the recent cases – in Vladimir, where he also refused to play. Also ran through the fire exit with the money required to pay him in advance, before the concert. Let return money Alekasndru Gindin, who was in the audience and played brilliantly and ingeniously for Gavrilova 3 Rachmaninoff concerto. A Gavrilova, if he does not return the money, we’ll get him out of Switzerland. The world is very small and cramped in fact.

  19. Panic attack………..It happens. However one must never walk out on an engagement whatever the circumstances.

  20. There’s something about the Rach 3, seems to me. Remember that Helfgott fellow who inspired the film “Shine’? The big scene featured him having a nervous breakdown in the midst of the concerto. A few years before the movie came out, I reviewed (for the LA Times) a concert in which the soloist suddenly stopped playing during the second movement, announcing to the stunned audience that he was (essentially) having a mid-life crisis. Thanks to the conductor, Mehli Mehta (father of Zubin), he was talked into resuming the performance. The almost-headline for my review: Concerto Interruptus.

  21. Alexander Ghindin says:


    Dear Andrey Gavrilov,
    I hardly ever post a reply as my work takes all the time. This time, however, I couldn’t help it because I simply don’t enjoy it when people lie, and lie without any shame. First off, the rehearsal started THREE days before the concert and NOT an hour before as you stated. And three days is enough time to agree (or agree to disagree) with the conductor or at least practice the score.
    You are a great pianist and I respect you a lot: I grew up listening many of your recordings. Still, I ask you to differ between interpretation and the lack of preparation.
    I have attended your rehearsal out of curiosity, expecting to hear YOUR Concerto. Honestly, I didn’t expect to hear anything like what I witnessed. What a pity! If there are memory lapses all around and no control over one’s hands, let’s not mask it by an épatage interpretation.

    It is a shame, my older brother in Music, shame! But, this is not the most frustrating thing!
    When one cancels a performance, it is really bad. But when one flees, like a coward, five minutes before the show and not letting anyone know – it just doesn’t seem fathomable. God can punish for actions of this sort.

    Why say that the conductor is inadequate, and that You had experienced this for the first time? Don’t bother: remember your incident in Vladimir, when you dropped everything and everyone, after the rehearsals? You vanished, on the day of the performance without telling anything to anyone then, too. Chopin Concerto No. 1. Then, the Vladimir Orchestra didn’t take the risk of conflicting with you. Do you think everyone will always take this route? Not good, not decent.

    Okay, back to the incident in the Svetlanov Hall, just the other day:
    1) about the orchestra: it is one of the absolute best orchestras of all of
    Russia. A great Orchestra. I believe I know what good orchestra is and what a good conductor is. I have performed with wonderful ones and with other
    ones. Dmitry Yurovsky is an extraordinary musician. He is a sensitive and a very reliable musical partner. He is also a great professional. He is a great conductor with a very solid reputation and a very serious name. Please don’t blame your professional inability (current!) on the shoulders of others, using the fact that your name is better known in the West than the name (at the moment) of the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. Things change, especially if you keep doing what you have done here in Moscow.

    Please don’t assume everyone is an idiot. They are not idiots, I will ask you to accept that.
    With the utmost respect to your past accomplishments, Alexander Ghindin

    • Svetlana Mityushina says:

      Dear Alexander,
      Thank you so much))) You helped us to believe that music-lovers mean somthing to musicians, saying nothing of the fact that you made our Wednesday’s evening. We admire you as a great musician and now we know that you are a noble person. We wish you evry success and really good people around.

  22. Svetlana Mityushina says:

    Our Moscow correspondent says it reminded him of Soviet times. The orchestra was mediocre and the attitude bad.
    Norman Lebrecht

    Than why did Western and American musicians come to play with our orchestras? Are they masochists …or too greedy?

  23. I came from italy to hear Andrei……. I drove to Berlin 3 days before to hear Pollini…..than fly to Moskow…. lukily Mr Ghindin was in the same place where I was……………..

  24. I made with permission, referring to your website, a dutch translation on the blog “making music” from the Public Library of Rotterdam:

  25. A lot of people supported him, but even more did not. But he deleted all their comments and blocked them on Facebook. A good proof? Count the average number of “Likes” before the event on each post, and count the
    average number of “Likes” AFTER the event! Noticing a certain decrease of “Likes” with time? ;)

    Gavrilov is an absolutely magical pianist, but as a person he is in deep need of a psychiatrist…
    Gavrilov has grown to be somebody beyond just a legendary pianist– he has turned into a sect leader, and requires to be treated as the Messiah by any FB friends. Look how he speaks down on people!

  26. Interesting to hear about the Private Eye article.
    The masterclasses and talk I attended were pleasantly intimate in terms of numbers, but some earlier events had been cancelled due to near zero turn-out. To his credit, there was no sign of disappointment from Gavrilov.

  27. In the Red Hedgehog’s defense, it is run by one person who I admit is rather eccentric but has tried, for years, to get well known artists & those starting a career the chance to appear in public.

    There is a website, but this crashed a month before the Gavrilov concerts which must have effected sales.. I found the information online & then spoke to the lady by phone.

    The venue can only comfortably seat about 50 people so is quite intimate (It has been converted from a small cafe)

    I believe Norman attended one of the Gavrilov events.

    Website is:-

    I have nothing to do with this venue officially, I have just attended a concert as a customer.

  28. I did a public conversation there with Peter Donohoe, which was well attended.

an ArtsJournal blog