One of the amazing “secrets” in the piano world is the pianist Grigory Sokolov, a man in his fifties who won the Tchaikovsky Prize in 1966 at the age of sixteen. He has been somewhat out of sight, as far as American audiences are concerned, tending to play in Europe only.
Because of his seemingly reclusive personality, he never had contract with major record labels and therefore lots of people were not aware of him. However, this one single DVD is really great—well worth your investment of time and $$. I just came to know this marvelous DVD of a recital that Sokolov gave at the Châtelet in Paris.
At the same time, I am still studying the way Grigory Sokolov plays Bach; I feel it is unique; at this point, however, my sense is that his playing of Bach is very percussive. It seems to me that the Cembalos and harpsichords of Bach’s day were plucked, so one could not really get a huge Forte out of these instruments, as he does in certain places. We’ll see what develops for me, as I listen further. What I do hear in Sokolv’s playing of Bach is wonderful precision, resistance to “interpretative” urges, and deep sensitivity to the music. What emerges is a conversation between the composer and performer that is quite special.
Here is Grigory Sokolov playing Bach’s Partita #6 (mvt 1):
And below is Sokolov playing at a concert in Paris:
And the first movement from the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto #3: