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19 junio 2024

Grigory Sokolov: A Pianistic Visionary Shaping Musical Moments

In the realm of classical piano, Grigory Sokolov stands as a beacon of musical purity, devoted to the essence of live performance and the spontaneous creation of unique, unrepeatable moments. Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on April 18, 1950, Sokolov’s journey from a prodigious young talent to the revered figure he is today has been marked by a steadfast commitment to the very core of his art.

Early Recognition and Artistic Evolution

Sokolov’s musical journey began at the age of five when he started playing the piano, quickly attracting attention for his exceptional talent. By 1962, at the age of 12, he gave his debut recital in Leningrad. Recognition swiftly followed, and in 1965, he won the first prize in the Russian National Competition. The following year, at just 16 years old, he made international headlines by becoming the youngest musician ever to receive the Gold Medal at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.

Emil Gilels, chairman of the Tchaikovsky Competition jury, recognized Sokolov’s extraordinary talent and became a champion of his work. Despite major concert tours to the United States and Japan in the 1970s, Sokolov’s artistry evolved away from the international spotlight. His live recordings from Soviet times gained near-mythical status in the West, showcasing an artist nourished by the rich tradition of Russian piano playing.

© Klaus Rudolph Deutsche Grammophon

Artistic Independence and Repertoire

Grigory Sokolov’s artistry revolves around solo recitals, forsaking studio recordings, orchestral collaborations, and chamber music. He immerses himself in a single program for months, presenting it over extensive tours across Europe. His repertoire spans an immense range, from medieval sacred polyphony and Baroque keyboard works to compositions by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and beyond.

Critical Acclaim and Recognition

Sokolov’s performances have received critical acclaim and audience ovations, highlighting the humanity and compassion conveyed by his work. Reviewers speak of his “genius” and recognize him as a “living legend.” Award-winning documentary maker Bruno Monsaingeon captured the essence of Sokolov’s artistry in a 2002 recital at Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées.

Exclusive Partnership with Deutsche Grammophon

In 2014, Sokolov signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, further solidifying his place among the great musicians of modern times. His albums, including “Sokolov: Schubert/Beethoven” and “Sokolov: Mozart/Rachmaninov,” showcase his broad and diverse repertoire, with live recordings capturing the essence of his performances.

A Unique Artistic Approach

Unlike many pianists, Sokolov takes a keen interest in understanding and collaborating with the instruments he plays. He meticulously explores their characteristics, collaborating with piano technicians to meet his ideal requirements. Critics often note his uncanny ability to articulate individual voices within complex textures, projecting seamless melodic lines.

The Intimate Connection with the Audience

Sokolov’s charismatic artistry cultivates a concentration that invites audiences to contemplate even the most familiar compositions from fresh perspectives. His sparing use of the sustaining pedal allows for subtle tonal gradations and bold contrasts through brilliant finger-work. His performances transcend surface display, drawing listeners into a close relationship with the music, revealing deeper spiritual meaning.

Shaping Musical Moments

Grigory Sokolov’s rare and captivating qualities find expression in his singular personality and individual vision. Amidst a world that often prioritizes media and public relations, Sokolov remains resolute in his focus on studying and making music. He shapes musical moments that stun audiences, breathing new life into compositions and reaffirming the enduring power of live piano performance. In the words of a San Francisco Chronicle review, Sokolov “stunned his audience with a kind of pianism, musicianship, and artistry one thought had vanished forever.”

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