Mikhail Pochekin: Playing Eternity and Being Friendly

Mikhail PochekinI first met Mikhail Pochekin on a cold Sunday morning of snow in Madrid. It was back in February 2018 and I had to cover for the Spanish music magazine Scherzo —actually my first collaboration— Pochekin’s recital accompanied by the great pianist Yury Favorin —his Prokofiev’s interpretations have no equal— at Fundación Juan March. When the recital was over, I made for the artist’s dressing room and Mikhail, with those cat eyes of his, as profound as profound his music performances are, talked about his brother Ivan with admiration. They both had just recorded a CD and he gave me a copy as a present to listen to. And that was what I did: listening to it attentively and with delight. After some months touring around Russia and Europe, destiny made us meet again in Becerril de la Sierra, a little town near Madrid, Spain, where Pochekin’s parents have been living for some years already. Mikhail invited me to see his dad’s workshop. Yuri Pochekin is an internationally renowned luthier who has just turned 70 this year. Most of the violins with which the Pochekin brothers play at their recitals have come out of this little workshop. Mikhail Pochekin is a violinist of exciting musicality, impressive technique and deep musical insight; intelligent —he speaks Russian, Spanish, English and German—, friendly and enthusiastic. When it comes down to music, things are clear to him. One of his aims is to bring classical music closer to people of all walks of life.

Mikhail Pochekin has grown up surrounded by music: his dad, a luthier; his mum, Elena Pochekina, a violin teacher; his elder brother, Iván, a violist and violinist of international prestige. Mikhail speaks with admiration about Jascha Heifetz, whom he considers “The King of Violin”. Mikhail also speaks with admiration about his brother, whom he considers a virtuoso. They both have played as a duet for six or seven years now. They are very different from each other, but when they play together, a magical music alchemy takes place and they sound as a unity, as a unique way of being: two opposites in one. Actually, their CD on music label Melodya is called The Pochekin Brothers, The Unity of Opposites, a set of duets for viola and violin by Michael Haydn and Mozart and duets for two violins by Reinhold Glière and Prokófiev. For those of you who do not know Glière’s music, you will be surprised by his 12 duets, exquisite as if they were a collection of musical aquarelles.

However, Mikhail Pochekin’s most important project so far is Bach. He has just recorded the whole sonatas and partitas for violin by the German composer, which will be soon released as a double CD. Playing these works is a challenge for any violinist. And it has been a long and difficult way for Mikhail as well. He has been discovering his own voice over the years: “first you learn theis extremely difficult pieces, then you make them your own and then your heart takes over them and the music grows within you”, he says. Mikhail thinks classical music will always stay with us: “Bach does not physically exist since 1750, but his music will exist as long as there are human beings on this planet Earth. We do not only enjoy music, music also makes us think about life, think about eternity. Somehow, we musicians are always playing eternity. And we people are especial thanks to artists like Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Shakespeare, Pushkin or Rafael. And this is what makes us different from animals.”

You, dear reader, if you have just read these lines, and if you ever have the chance to see Mikhail Pochekin play live, come up to him —don’t be shy— and talk to him, let his profound cat eyes take over you. You will see that behind the artist who plays eternity and moves you with sounds, there is also a human being like you and me, a human being who loves to talk with words, someone who is close and friendly.

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
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