'A magical encounter with a near-mythical creature' - The Times
After nearly two decades in recording obscurity, elusive Russian pianist Grigory Sokolov has stunned audiences with his new album The Salzburg Recital, entering the Official UK Specialist Classical Charts at No 1.
The live recording of works by Mozart and Chopin is his first album since a Schubert Sonatas disc, recorded in 1992, came to market in 1996. It is also his first release as an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist.
Sokolov no longer performs in the UK, but his recitals are still sought-after around the world - he gives up to seventy concerts a year, and has been described by The Spectator as 'the greatest living pianist'.
It's not just the UK that has fallen under Sokolov's spell - in Germany, his new album is in the Top Forty in the Pop Chart, ahead of all other classical albums and out-selling the Vienna Philharmonic's popular 2015 New Year's Day Concert recording.
Mark Wilkinson, President of Deutsche Grammophon, commented: 'After more than two decades, piano-lovers around the world are already endorsing this extraordinary album as something very special indeed - it is a recital to treasure, and a landmark recording to compete with the very best.'
Sokolov is known for the extraordinary subtlety and endless variety of his tone, the vast depths of his musicianship and the spiritual intensity of his music-making. He is also known for what he does not do: he no longer performs with orchestras, nor on pianos that are more than five years old. He makes no studio recordings and is reluctant to do interviews, feeling more comfortable expressing himself through his music.
In an uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, he always demands at least double the rehearsal time expected by his peers prior to every recital - and, as if in return, gives double the amount of encores. In short, his pursuit of perfection is all-consuming. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that Sokolov was unavailable to comment on his chart success. He remains in intensive rehearsal for his forthcoming live performances across Europe.
As the Daily Telegraph wrote, 'Listening to Sokolov, you know unequivocally that you are in the presence of someone extraordinary'.