Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Grigory Sokolov

Grigory Sokolov is a truly great musician who happens to play the piano. He is the finest pianist I know of and he is alive and well and playing concerts. Now I haven't heard every pianist and of the ones I have heard, I certainly have only heard a small part of what they have done. I have heard Arthur Rubenstein, Alicia de Larrocha and a few other spectacular pianists in concert and many, many more on disc. I have, at various times, been particularly fond of Evo Pogorelich, Glenn Gould, Friedrich Gulda and Maurizio Pollini. I have never quite fallen under the Horowitz mystique, but I have certainly heard some of his recordings. So I have some acquaintance with piano-playing.

But a couple of years ago a Polish-American conductor grabbed me by the arm and said "you HAVE to listen to Grigory Sokolov." Finally I did order some CDs and yes, he was right. I had never heard such musical and precise playing and so sensible to tone color--except perhaps that of Arthur Rubenstein. Here's the thing though, Sokolov hates recording. He does no work in the recording studio. He just plays concerts. Which are often recorded or filmed. There is a spectacular film of a recital he did in the Theatre des Champs Elysees a few years ago. Here is one of the encores from that concert:

This precision and delicacy came after playing a particularly robust and demanding Prokofiev sonata. Here is a magical Chopin waltz from a different recital:

What I really want you to hear is his Beethoven, but Blogger refuses to find the right clip. Here is the URL on YouTube:

What is so impressive about Sokolov is his absolute control of the dynamics from the softest to the loudest. My discovery of his playing made a huge difference in my own. He is just so utterly musical. Words are failing me, aren't they? Just go and listen to that Sonata op 28. Here is the second movement:

I love that theme and its staccato accompaniment. Enjoy!

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