Born in St Petersburg, Sokolov shot to fame when he won the 1966 International Tchaikovsky Competition. Notoriously mercurial about giving concerts and even more so when it comes to making recordings, Sokolov enjoyed a renaissance of interest and acclaim with DG’s best-selling issue of a 2008 Salzburg Festival recital. The recording was praised for its integrity in these pages by Gramophone reviewer Harriet Smith, who singled out his Mozart for being ‘treasurable’ and described his encore of a Bach chorale prelude as ‘all the more moving for its apparent simplicity’. Overall, she wrote, ‘it’s an overused word, but he is inimitable’.
Grigory Sokolov is a musical figure of intense magnitude, and one whose concerts are always awaited with great anticipation. Attending his performances, one may have the sensation of the sound possessing a nearly physical essence; it fills the entire concert hall with rare energy and lives in its own time sphere. Sokolov is a great example for young pianists of how much one can seek and find in a piece of music, and in so doing, elevate the listener above the mundane with it.