Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Grigory Sokolov: Bologna, May 15

I have been trying to get a ticket to see a concert by Grigory Sokolov while I am in Spain this summer. At first, I was unsuccessful, but with the aid of a friend who speaks Italian, I finally succeeded. I got the email for the promotors of a concert in Bologna on May 15 and they just got back to me, saying that all the tickets were sold, but that I could put my name on the reserve list if a ticket became available on the day of the concert. I wrote back asking what the chances were as I would be making a special trip from Madrid just for the concert. They answered saying as I was coming from another city, that they would set aside a ticket for me in "first Stall", which I think is a good seat! Wow, this is just amazingly kind!

I can't help but contrast it with my experience last summer with our local chamber music festival. First of all, the most interesting concert (almost the only interesting concert!) was going to be pianist Jeremy Denk with a violinist doing all the Charles Ives violin sonatas. I even studied up on them. Then, just a couple of days before, it was canceled. Ok, not their fault. So I went to the office wanting to exchange my ticket for a different concert and they said they couldn't do that. I had to buy a new ticket and later on, after the end of the festival, they would refund the first one. Ok. But it didn't happen. They never refunded the ticket for the concert that was canceled.

I am very, very tempted to write an essay for the local newspaper explaining "Why I Don't Attend the Chamber Music Festival Concerts Any More!" In the meantime they have downgraded themselves by renaming it the "International Music Festival." Thanks but no thanks!

We just have to listen to some Grigory Sokolov, don't we? This is a performance of forty-eight minutes of François Couperin, the XIII and XVIII Ordres from a 2001 concert:

To my knowledge, none of Sokolov's performances of Rameau or Couperin have been released on CD. He doesn't do studio recordings, so the only CDs available have been of live recordings. The company that released these was Naive, but they are out of business. Luckily Deutsche Grammophon has started releasing CDs of his concerts. But so far they have just been of the more conventional repertoire such as Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven.

Way back in the 70s the Early Music Movement became a powerful force with performances of Bach and pre-Bach repertoire on original instruments following supposedly historical performance practice. These performances have gotten better and better so for a lot of this repertoire I automatically default to the Early Music guys. In fact a lot of orchestras and pianists have simply stopped playing the early stuff, ceding the turf to the original instrument players. So Rameau and Couperin and all the other harpsichord composers are hardly ever heard on piano these days.

Sokolov, however has been playing a lot of Rameau and Couperin. In a concert he might play a whole suite or two and recently he has been playing six pieces by Rameau as his first six encores! The thing is, that he plays this music so extraordinarily well that I have come to prefer him to the harpsichordists! So get with it Deutsche Grammophon!

Here is a little Couperin encore called "Tic-Toc-Choc":


Marc Puckett said...

Delighted that you will be able to hear Sokolov's performance! Have been listening to his Diabelli Variations lately, performed in St Petersburg back in the 90s.

Noticed just tonight, browsing about, that the MacMillan European Requiem (given here last season at the Bach Festival) will be performed during the Proms, 30 July. Am looking forward to that!

Marc Puckett said...

And the 18th was his birthday, I see only today, thanks to the weekly emails DG send out. :-)

Bryan Townsend said...

Yes, that is, of course, a terrific recording. Was Grigory's birthday? And I didn't get him anything!

Marc Puckett said...

Yes, sorry; GS's birthday was the 18th. DG is selling a CD with a DVD of a documentary about GS: his life, his late wife who wrote poems, their social milieu &c &c. Hmm.

Bryan Townsend said...

Finally after all these years, DG is realizing what a great artist Sokolov is.