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Grigory Sokolov - The Salzburg Recital

Release Date: 02/24/2015 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 002250702   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartFrédéric ChopinAlexander ScriabinJean-Philippe Rameau,   ... 
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov
Number of Discs: 2 
Length: 1 Hours 49 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Deutsche Grammophon has a history of signing exclusive contracts with pianists who cultivate enigmatic and awesome reputations, such as Martha Argerich, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, and Vladimir Horowitz, and now Grigory Sokolov. It’s quite a catch, to say the least, because for years Sokolov has refused to affiliate himself with a record company, enter a recording studio, or play a concerto.

For their first project, Sokolov sanctioned the release of his July 30, 2008 Salzburg Festival recital, and it reveals the pianist’s extraordinary finesse, concentration, and individuality in full fettle. Interpretively speaking, Chopin’s Op. 28 Préludes are
Read more quite similar in conception to Sokolov’s live 1990 recording, although occasionally different in detail. Reviewing the latter for Classicstoday.com, I praised Sokolov’s “untrammeled, personalized pianism,” which possessed “a kind of freedom that seems fueled by creative inquiry rather than unfounded, willful eccentricity.” And so it is here, except that the fuller-bodied Salzburg engineering seems to position at least one microphone at closer range, giving note attacks just a little more edge. For example, the elegantly and effortlessly shaped etude-like G major, F-sharp minor, and E-flat Preludes seem more specific in regard to linear contouring. The 1990 G minor’s italicized upbeats and tension-filled rubatos are virtually identical in 2008. Yet in other cases it’s clear that Sokolov has changed.

The tumultuous B-flat minor now benefits from less pedal and crisper articulation, although the C-sharp minor’s descending right-hand arpeggiated figures emerge less fluidly. In 1990 Sokolov milks the A minor’s gnawing left-hand dissonances, while in 2008 he rounds them off. The present F minor Prelude scores for heightened dynamic contrasts and dramatic flair. And I much prefer Sokolov’s brisker, more direct rethinking of the B-flat major to its earlier, more stretched and relatively mannered counterpart.

The two Mozart sonatas that open the recital are highly calibrated and polished from a pianistic angle, subjecting all phrases, ornaments, dynamic scaling, contrapuntal balances, and chord voicings to immense scrutiny. But don’t get the impression that Sokolov is embalming Mozart: far from it. His judicious tempo choices and consistently singing tone keep the music alive and engaging, especially in the slow movements.

If anything, the encores are even more magical. The two Scriabin Op. 69 Poèmes stand out for Sokolov’s gorgeous textural layering and nuanced rapid figurations. A moody and hypnotically sustained Chopin A minor Mazurka Op. 68 No. 2 precedes a C-sharp minor Op. 63 No. 3 Mazurka where nearly each measure suggests a different mood and keeps you guessing, yet manages to logically flow from one into the next. After an ebullient and brilliantly ornamented Rameau Les Sauvages, Sokolov closes with a Bach/Busoni Ich ruf zu dir where the pianist’s ideal alignment of top chorale melody, animated inner voices, and gently present bass lines creates a lovely transparency that far surpasses, say, Simone Dinnerstein’s weighty, heavily accented traversal. I hope that Sokolov will consider further archival bounty worthy of release.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 2 in F major, K 280 (189e) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1775; Munich, Germany 
Sonata for Piano no 12 in F major, K 332 (300k) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1781-1783; Vienna, Austria 
Preludes (24) for Piano, Op. 28 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
Počmes (2) for Piano, Op. 69: no 1 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Russia 
Mazurkas (4) for Piano, Op. 68: no 2 in A minor, B 18 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1827; Poland 
Počmes (2) for Piano, Op. 69: no 2 by Alexander Scriabin
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913; Russia 
Mazurkas (3) for Piano, B 162/Op. 63: no 3 in C sharp minor by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Paris, France 
Nouvelles suites de pičces de clavecin: no 14, Les sauvages by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1730; France 
Orgelbüchlein: Ich ruf'zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Grigory Sokolov (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1713-1717; Weimar, Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Artificialism at its heights March 4, 2015 By Peter T. (Bethesda, MD) See All My Reviews "Tempo, dynamics, rhythm, phrazing,... everything is twisted, exaggerated, mutilated, distorted to beyond recognition. Grotesque. Very much regret spending money on this show of bad taste." Report Abuse
 Fantastic February 26, 2015 By William Schneider (Yaphank, NY) See All My Reviews "I have never heard this pianist in my lifetime of listing.I do not want to take anything away from all the other great pianists of our time,but this cd showcases what might be the very best of the very best,The playing is tender,warm and glowing with feeling and a quality I have not heard before.The cd sound is exemplary with no shrillness or muddiness to the sound.DG deserves a commendation for this production and Sokolov an award for this great performance-What else can I say,I love it." Report Abuse
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