For those who love the piano, this is essential . . . The Mozart is as elegant as could be, but the Rachmaninoff is something "very" special indeed . . . It is a powerhouse but sensitive performance with two unique points . . . Sokolov's performance is exceptional . . . Sokolov and conductor collaborate perfectly in making something very special of the climax of the concerto . . . playing is not rushed, grandiose and passionate indeed. A fabulous performance that should be heard by all who love this music!! . . . Beautiful video, and production values are high.
Sokolov's Rachmaninov playing is immense and, in its mix of supreme fluency and ardent intensity, easily bears comparison with the best versions available on disc. His account of K488 is just as compelling; the opening piano solo in the slow movement is as fine a demonstration as any of how less can mean so much more in a performance.
. . . fascinating . . . [Sokolov's force of personality and] stunning technique are never in doubt . . .
With this current issue, we have two concerto recordings so good that one runs the risk of using up all available superlatives . . . [Sokolov plays Mozart's K. 488 and somehow manages] to make every note as fresh as if it were newly minted. One passage in the slow movement, after letter C, literally took my breath away. I have never heard any pianist bring out the arpeggios in the left hand so as to provide a perfect segue to the arpeggios in the bassoon . . . I have such admiration for Sokolov that I could listen to him play scales all day . . . In the last movement of the Mozart, just listen to the effortless brilliance of the A major scales at bar 502 . . . in Trevor Pinnock and the members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, he has the ideal partners. The orchestra plays splendidly, with Pinnock fully supporting his soloist in both spirit and in detail . . . [Rachmaninov / Piano Concerto no. 3]: Sokolov proves himself to be superlative in this repertoire too. Technically, he is astonishing and his command of the ebb and flow of the music is almost uncanny . . . [Sokolov builds the excitement] like no one else in my experience and still has plenty of power left for the climax . . . While Sokolov's playing in the Rachmaninov constantly impresses us with both its virtuosity and attention to detail, it also gives us a rendering of the piece that strikes me as revelatory . . . in Sokolov's hands it seems darker and, if you will, more dangerous . . . Sokolov surely plumbs the depths of this piece as few other pianists have done before or since.
[Mozart 23]: an intimate reading with Sokolov's characteristic crisp, clear staccatos punctuating the opening of the final movement . . . [Rachmaninov 3]: The speed at which Sokolov takes the opening of the final movement is scarcely believable . . . the scale of Sokolov's interpretive conception is awesome and often startling.
. . . [in Mozart's Piano Concerto no. 23, Sokolov] plays wonderfully, achieving an arresting fusion of vitality and refinement . . . and imbues the development section with dynamic inflections that illuminate Mozart's harmonic surprises . . . [in the Adagio] it's hard to resist Sokolov's pinpoint articulation and hypnotic legato. The pianist comes even more into his own through the Allegro assai, with gorgeous yet stylistically apt tonal gradations and crisply shaded Alberti basses . . . [Rachmaninov / Piano Concerto no. 3]: Once past the deceptively sedate opening theme, Sokolov nonchalantly flies, taking the vertiginous passagework in suave stride in the manner of the composer himself . . . yet accounting for plenty of buried motifs and inner voices . . . [Sokolov has the] ability to grasp big chords without an iota of either bluster or imbalance . . . If you want to hear rich, intelligently sustained string tone, listen to the Intermezzo's grippingly sculpted opening . . . The finale's broad rhetorical stretchings all make intrinsic musical sense and never give the impression of a pianist seeking to draw attention to himself.
The phenomenon that is Grigory Sokolov really does take the breath away. There isn't a pianist quite like him performing today . . . the music-making is just in a class of its own . . . his pianism is exceptional and awe-inspiring . . . [this performance of Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto] is, to put it simply, one of the most hair-raising ever to appear on disc . . . One moment one thinks of this as a slow burning fire that ignites from almost nothing . . . until it roars with uncontrollable rage and heat in a cadenza that is just blistering. The Intermezzo is so poetically done -- I actually can't think of a better performance of this movement . . . This is steely beauty rather than lyrical beauty and all the better for it. By the final movement the intensity of the playing conjures up a molten cascade of notes flowing with unrelenting power . . . here is a pianist who just isn't afraid to let every note be heard for its true value either. You never get eliding or obfuscation of the notes with Sokolov, which is partly what makes hearing him so thrilling, and a Sokolov performance one of enormous technical and musical clarity . . . Mozart's Concerto No. 23 in A, K. 488 is an equally mesmerising performance . . . It's rare to hear Mozart played with such refinement as it is here . . . For one thing his keyboard touch is almost feline, though still very apparent is the sense that you can hear every note Mozart wrote for the instrument in a performance that just shimmers like tropical pond water . . . There are no technical issues whatsoever with this performance, just a silken thread-like lightness of touch that holds the entire structure together. Indeed, the Adagio is played as if suspended in water; it's exotic as well as scintillating and manages to be both profound and simple simultaneously . . . Sokolov is always a mesmerising pianist in his own right -- almost nothing I have heard from him has been other than revelatory . . . This is a fabulous and absolutely essential release that demands to be heard.
The opening movement of the Mozart Concerto is nicely paced and has an unruffled ease. Pinnock and Sokolov are perfectly in tune as regards rhythmic flexibility, with the conductor quite remarkable in the delicacy of his light and buoyant accompaniment. The piano solos are expressive and elegantly phrased . . . I don't recall ever having heard the slow movement played so well. Conductor and soloist have striven for intimacy and pensiveness, and this is what they've achieved with potent effect . . . the underlying pathos comes over with startling effect. Effervescent and vivacious, the finale is rendered with blithe insouciance . . . [Rachmaninov 3]: DG have worked a miracle on this 1995 Proms performance, and it emerges bright, vivid and fresh . . . Sokolov has the ability to scale things down when necessary, playing with supreme responsiveness and finesse. Impassioned, ardent and intensely fervid are adjectives that immediately spring to mind . . . He invests the slow movement with poetry and passion. The finale has generous helpings of vigour and rhythmic drive. I love the way he takes a broad, spacious view of the "big tune" when it reappears in all it's glory at the end. Yan Pascal Tortelier and the BBC Philharmonic are with him all the way . . . [one finds] much to admire in this absorbing release.
. . . [the DVD] is fascinating . . . the two concertos here represent the zenith of his art. An ideal partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra under Trevor Pinnock's direction performing Mozart highlights the playful grace of Sokolov's playing in the outer movements, and its rapt intensity in the Adagio. And the Rachmaninov goes like the wind, with Sokolov's contrasts in tone and colour turning each section of each movement into a seductively habitable sound-world.
[Mozart 23]: Poetry abounds in the first movement while the Adagio builds to a climax of cinematic proportions. Sokolov expends more energy in the finale than other pianists do in Brahms . . . [in the Rachmaninov] his innate mastery of the music's ebb and flow is on the highest level . . . He thunders through the cadenza of the first movement . . . but the section immediately following is beautifully delicate . . . Sound quality is excellent.