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January 2021
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The unique and unrepeatable nature of music made in the present moment is central to understanding the expressive beauty and compelling honesty of Grigory Sokolov's art. The Russian pianist's poetic interpretations, brought to life with a mystical intensity in performance, arise from the deep knowledge of the works from his vast repertoire. His recital programs range from transcriptions of medieval sacred polyphony and works by Byrd, Couperin, Rameau, Froberger to the music of Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Brahms and 20th century historical compositions by Prokofiev, Ravel, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky. He is widely recognized among pianophiles as one of the greatest pianists today, an artist universally admired for his visionary profile, fascinating spontaneity, and uncompromising devotion to music.

Grigory Sokolov was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) on April 18, 1950. He began playing the piano at the age of five and, two years later, began studying with Liya Zelikhman at the Central Special School of the Leningrad Conservatory. He took classes from Moisey Khalfin at the Leningrad Conservatory and gave his debut recital in Leningrad in 1962. Sokolov's prodigious talent was recognized in 1966 when, at age 16, he became the youngest musician to receive the Gold Medal at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. Emil Gilels, chairman of the Tchaikovsky Contest jury, subsequently defended Sokolov's work.

While Grigory Sokolov went on major concert tours of the United States and Japan in the 1970s, his art evolved and matured outside of the international spotlight. His live recordings from the Soviet era acquired an almost mythical status in the West, evidence of an artist at once completely individual, like no other, but nurtured by the rich soil of the Russian tradition of playing the piano. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sokolov began to appear in major concert halls and festivals in Europe. He performed extensively as a soloist with orchestras of the highest caliber, working with, among others, the New York Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, the London Philharmonia, the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and the Munich Philharmonic, before deciding to focus exclusively on giving only recitals. Sokolov performs around 70 concerts each season, completely immerses himself in a single program and tours throughout Europe.

Unlike many pianists, Sokolov has a keen interest in the mechanism and configuration of the instruments he plays. He spends hours exploring its physical characteristics, consulting and collaborating with piano technicians to achieve their ideal requirements. "It takes hours to understand the piano, because everyone has their own personality and we play together," he explains. The association between artist and instrument is vitally important to Sokolov's flow of musical ideas. Saving on the use of the sustain pedal, it evokes everything from the most subtle tonal and textural gradations to the boldest sound contrasts through the sheer brilliance of his finger work. Critics often draw attention to his uncanny ability to articulate individual voices within a complex polyphonic texture and project seamless melodic lines.

Grigory Sokolov's charismatic art has the power to cultivate the concentration necessary for audiences to view even the most familiar compositions from new perspectives. In recital, he draws listeners into a close relationship with music, transcending matters of superficial exhibition and spectacle to reveal a deeper spiritual meaning. Sokolov's art is built on the solid foundations of his unique personality and individual vision.

In 2014, Sokolov signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and a first album was released in January 2015, a sensational recital recorded live at the 2008 Salzburg Festival. The content of the double-disc set reflects the breadth and depth of his repertoire , comprising two sonatas by Mozart, 24 Préludes Op.28 by Chopin and encore pieces by JS Bach, Chopin, Rameau and Scriabin. Sokolov's Salzburg Recital album was followed in January 2016 by the release of a second two-disc set, Sokolov Schubert / Beethoven. The latter includes Schubert's Four Impromptus D 899 and Three Piano Pieces D 946, recorded live at the Warsaw Philharmonic in 2013, and Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 29 "Hammerklavier", recorded in performance at the Festival of Salzburg 2013. Sokolov's 3rd DG album, released in March 2017, features his personal choice of two live concert performances: Mozart's Piano Concerto in A major K488 and Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3, the first recorded at the Salzburg Mozart Week in 2005, the last at the BBC Proms in 1995. These historical archival recordings will air alongside the DVD of Nadia Zhdanova's documentary film A Conversation That Never Was, a revealing portrait of Sokolov based on interviews with friends and colleagues of the pianist and illustrated with never before seen images from private archives.

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