- Poème for piano, Op. 69/2
- Poème for piano, Op. 69/1
Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov has refused to make studio recordings but has gained quite a reputation through bootleg live recordings alone. On this 2015 release from Deutsche Grammophon there is a 2008 recital, with excellent live sound, from the Salzburg Festival. The presumably conservative crowd goes wild and demands the long series of encores that are an integral part of Sokolov's recitals. That's an unusual way to shape a recital, and indeed everything about Sokolov's playing is unusual. In the notes he's quoted as rejecting the idea of a Russian school, but that's the only way to describe his pair of Mozart sonatas: over-the-top Romantic with added ornamentation, repeated second halves, wildly slow tempos in the slow movements, heavy-handed accents, and brilliant passagework. One imagines that Mozart was played this way in St. Petersburg in 1850. The thing is, even if some listeners don't like it, it attracts attention and holds it. The 24 Chopin preludes tend more to invite Sokolov's highly individualistic treatments, and it's very rare to hear them shaped into a set as Sokolov does here. Each of the encores is a brilliant, memorable gesture. Some hold that Sokolov is the defining piano genius of his time, a match for the great Soviet pianists of the middle 20th century. For those who have never heard him and are curious about him, he's in fine form here.