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Grigory Sokolov refuses Cremona Music Award because this Guy's also on the List

Update: On An Overgrown Path weighs in: Churnalism is destroying classical music
Update: A response from the Cremona Music Award's Paolo Bodini can be found in the comment section.
Update: A response from Norman Lebrecht, after two days of silence, also below.
Update: Gavin Dixon on the specific reasons behind Sokolov's distaste for Lebrecht.
Update: On An Overgrown Path delves into what the "Cremona Music Awards" actually are all about.

Because he shares a prize of the new Cremona Mondo Musica Awards with past (2014) winner Norman Lebrecht (check his tweets here), Grigory Sokolov refused his prize, calling it “a shame to appear on the same list”.

Translated into English, more or less, the text reads:

Dear Mr Bianchedi, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Artistic Committee of the Cremona Mondomusica Piano Experience

I refuse to receive the 2015 Cremona Music Award, because it goes against my ideas of elementary decency, and is [indeed] a shame to appear on the [same] list of winners with Lebrecht.

G. Sokolov

Original letter in Italian (above) and Russian below.

The Lebrecht responds... kinda:


Gavin Dixon said...

Hi Jens. More on this:

Fafner1970 said...

Though I have no idea what could have put off Sokolov so utterly to refuse to be on the same honours list like NL I have to say that I could very well understand the general cause. If I look upon how NL is handling some cases and issues I doubt if the label "journalism" still applies to what he is doing in his blog. Gossip and campaigning would be more fitting the bill. The most recent Thielemann-bashing is just another highlight.

And of course no mention of Sokolov's refusal and reasoning on his blog. Honi soit qui mal y pense...

jfl said...

Thanks, Gavin, for digging a little deeper.

Unknown said...

just to clarify the official position of CremonaFiere, organizer of Cremona Mondomusica and the Cremona Music Award, I’d like to inform you that CremonaFiere launched the Cremona Music Award, which is given within Cremona Mondomusica and Piano Experience since 2014, in order to reward the international personalities that have arisen in their respective areas of interest in the world of music.

In 2014, we awarded:
• Micheal Nyman (“Composition” category)
• Alfred Brendel (“Interpretation” category)
• Norman Lebrecht (“Communication” category)
• FuturOrchestra (“Project” category)

These people came to Cremona to receive the prize, except from Norman Lebrecht, who was unable to come and sent a video message.

This year, our Artistic Committee considered to award:
• Krzysztof Penderecki (Composition)
• Grigory Sokolov (Interpretation)
• Corinna Da Fonseca Wollheim, music critic of the New York Times (Communication)
• Stefano Belisari aka Elio (Project)

Maestros Penderecki and Belisari, and Corinna Da Fonseca Wollheim have come to Cremona to receive the prize, while Maestro Sokolov sent us a letter to refuse the prize, justifying this choice with the presence of Norman Lebrecht among the people awarded in 2014.

We don't want to discuss the personal relationship between Maestro Sokolov and Norman Lebrecht; we are just very sorry about Sokolov's choice, especially considering that Franco Panozzo, Sokolov's manager, sent us an email on August 4th, 2015, saying that Maestro Sokolov would have been very happy to come to Cremona to receive the prize, if he had been in Italy during Cremona Mondomusica. We also have to say that before that (June 29th, 2015) we informed Franco Panozzo about the people awarded in 2014, Norman Lebrecht included.
So we have been surprised that just a few days before the prize-giving ceremony Maestro Sokolov took this decision.

Best regards
Paolo Bodini

jfl said...

Dear Mr. Bodini,

many thanks much for the clarification and explanation. Worthy choices for interpreters and composers, no doubt... but certainly curious, and in one case apparently unwise, choices for communication.

On the upside, there's no such thing as bad publicity (Mr. Lebrecht would know all about that), and Mr. Sokolov's refusal on grounds which with every self-respecting journalist and musician can only cry "Hallelujah!" to, must have helped the Cremona Music Award to some very considerably increased awareness in the industry.

With best regards and, frankly, congratulations -

Jens F. Laurson

ADGO said...

As Norman Lebrecht is refusing to publish my comment on Slippedisc, I'll copy-paste it here...

Recall last year that soon after Sokolov's wife passed away, the pianist published a cryptic letter which began, 'To my astonishment, I have learned about some delirious inventions made on the subject of my wife's life'. This can be read in full on Sokolov's website or on AMC. The cause of that was most likely Norman Lebrecht's blog post in which he speculated about Sokolov marrying his dead cousin's wife, going into detail about the apparent Sokolov family tree. You can find this blog post still on Slippedisc (under the title 'Sad news...'), and the links at the bottom of it which lead to the old Sokolov website. Click any of those links and you'll see a message which states that Norman Lebrecht should not be believed. Lebrecht's rash and shameless speculation about Sokolov's recently deceased wife is most likely the reason why Sokolov refuses to associate with him. I want to make this clear as it is the only sensible public explanation for Sokolov's refusal. There may be private reasons no one can know about, but the public one is there for all to see.

On another matter....I've attended Sokolov's recitals for nearly 15 years and he is without doubt the greatest pianist I've ever heard. If you can't hear him in the UK--which I used to--then take a trip to Brussels or Amsterdam and it'll most likely turn into one of the great concert experiences of your life.

jfl said...

I saw that comment on Sippedisc, actually. Has the Lebrecht removed it, since? In any case, welcome to ionarts! ❤

ADGO said...

Thanks, you have an excellent blog. I spoke to Norman by email and removed an unnecessarily aggressive part of the message, and then he posted it. Cheers Jens.

Unknown said...

As Norman Lebrecht is refusing to publish my comment on Slippedisc too, I'll copy-paste it here...

Many of you quote what is written in the blog now:
"Little is known of his domestic circumstances except that his wife was also his cousin’s widow."
But no one of you knows that originally it was so:
"Little is known of his domestic circumstances except that his wife was also his aunt", and it is lies.
Additional color to Lebrecht's portret you can find here:

jfl said...

"I spoke to Norman by email and removed an unnecessarily aggressive part of the message, and then he posted it. Cheers Jens."

OMG! That works? The other way 'round, too? One just has to e-mail him and he will remove unnecessarily aggressive (or just flat-out wrong) parts of his screeds? Amazing. ;-)