Mikhail Chemiakin Rebekka with Mask

I like Mihail Chemiakin's art. I saw his pictures for the first time in 1967 at an exhibition in the hall of the Leningrad conservatoire. They were bright, richly coloured canvases, mainly oil-paintings. I saw with what interest and greediness the students of the conservatoire were "eating up" Chemiakin's pictures. I took with me to Moscow photographs of Chemiakin's illustrations of Dostoievsky. They were pencil drawings

At a later stage in Moscow, I can't say how often I looked at these drawings, time and again, in order to revive them in my memory to the minutest detail. Already then I had understood the "musicality" of the painter's hand.

That was the very reason which led me to ask Chemiakin to do the cover of the records of Tchaikovsky's opera "The Queen of Spades" which I had just finished recording in Paris. I knew that Chemiakin was capable of "scoring" the old Petersbourg in his drawing. And his cover started sounding for me with the illusive colours of Petersbourg when you can't figure out whether it is a sunrise or a sunset in the cold and transparent radiance of the somewhat lifeless skies. It is light failing on objects and people which makes them silvery and elusive.

Mstislav Rostropovitch
1978 Paris

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