Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
The people who inspired me to love music were, firstly, my teachers in my home town Ulan-Ude, Chernyh Olga and Stepanova Elena.
What attracts me to the piano is it is an instrument of endless possibilities. One life is not enough to catch them all.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
I could certainly repeat my teachers, but when I was a teenager, I was really privileged to have the recordings of Gilels and Richter. I listened to a lot of symphonic music. I think it was really important for me as a young man to get to know something of how orchestras could sound, and how the phrasing of a piano could be. To achieve a melodious sound on the piano it is very helpful to listen to good singers, like Nikolay Gedda.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
I think the Tchaikovsky Competition was the most challenging moment in my life to date. It is not that easy for any musician to take part in this competition because you must play around three and a half hours of music including concertos with orchestra and solo repertoire. In the final one must perform two concerti with the orchestra and under great pressure.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I believe it is my future performances and recordings of which I will be most proud. But of course there are some concerts which I will definitely remember all my life. The most memorable are my debut solo recital at the Grand Hall of Moscow State Conservatory, and later the same month my debut at Carnegie Hall with the same programme. I will remember these legendary halls for sure.
Which particular works do you think you play best?
Actually, I think that this question should not be addressed to me. I would prefer to talk about the particular works I love to perform most of all. I really love Russian music, and enjoy it when I play and when I listen to it. Even more, though, I feel free when I perform Russian music. My favourite composers are Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky. I believe they are just in my soul.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It has definitely become easier. The major task with orchestral repertoire for me so far has been to learn the works from the basic piano repertoire. Regarding solo repertoire, for the last two season I have tried to combine Russian music and works of composers like Schubert, Beethoven or Liszt, which I really enjoy performing. On the other hand, I am not against an all-Russian or all-Liszt programme, for example.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Well, I play a lot in Moscow and I really love Moscow halls and the public, but I play across Russia in small cities as well. At the same time, I perform widely abroad in big and prestigious halls, and feel different perceptions from different audiences. But for me the main thing is your attitude to the concert: it does not matter how grand the hall is, one should play with all your power, strength, passion, attitude to everyone regardless of how many people came to the concert – ten or two thousand.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Please ask me this question in twenty years! So far, I think that it is around 20% talent, around 60% practice, and the remaining 20% rest is just luck.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
I will be very happy to be on the stage playing big repertoire, and with more freedom to choose what I want to play: perhaps a recital dedicated to Medtner, for example.
What do you enjoy doing most?
In my professional life, I really enjoy the situation when, even if I listened to a particular piece many times, maybe during the concert, I feel as if I really listen to it for the first time in my life. It turns out completely new for me, as if for the first time, like someone has given me a new pair of ears, and I immediately want to play it.
Also I enjoy playing chamber music either with young musicians or masters. To play chamber music with musicians of the same age is a really perfect practice for meaningful “conversation” and collaboration.
On November 30th, Russian pianist and winner of the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition, Dmitry Masleev, will perform at St John’s Smith Square as part of the Blüthner Piano Series. He will perform a programme of Liszt and Tchaikovsky (full details here: https://www.sjss.org.uk/events/dmitry-masleev).
This concert will also mark the release of his debut album of Scarlatti sonatas, Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 2, and Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with the Tatarstan State Symphony and conductor Alexander Sladkovsky.
The triumphant winner of the latest International Tchaikovsky Competition (2015), Dmitry took First Prize with wholehearted support from the audience and jury. In his first season Dmitry made a series of successful debuts at the Klavierfestival Ruhr, the Philharmonie am Gasteig in Munich, la Roque d’Anthéron and Bergamo & Brescia piano festivals, two tours of Japan with Valery Gergiev and Yury Bashmet, the French debut with Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, the opening gala of the Istanbul Festival, and was a last-minute replacement for the indisposed Maurizio Pollini in Basel. Born and raised in Ulan-Ude, Dmitry studied at the Moscow Conservatory with Mikhail Petukhov, and at the International Music Academy at Lake Como.