Evgeni Koroliov and Grigory Sokolov: 2 Russian titanic pianists to perfectly finish the year!
Koroliov, an outstanding Bach performer, programmed the Goldberg Variations at the Maison de la Radio. He recorded the work 2 decades ago, and has played it many times (I heard at least 2 concert broadcasts on the radio, and there is also a DVD from 2008) but not in Paris as far as I know.
The 1st time I saw him in the concert hall was at the TCE for an exceptional Art of the Fugue, and he has graced us with remarkable concerts each and every time ever since, including another all Bach recital on a Sunday morning, something like 5 years ago which was as close to perfection as you can get.
György Ligeti said of Koroliov’s Bach: « … but if I am to be allowed only one musical work on my desert island, then I should choose Koroliov’s Bach, because forsaken, starving and dying of thirst, I would listen to it right up to my last breath ».
Koroliov served the Goldberg Variations with the deepest understanding and impeccable vision and technique. A superlative hour and a half!
Just 2 days later, Sokolov played Beethoven and Schubert at the TCE.
Of Beethoven, he chose the 3rd Piano Sonata and the 11 Bagatelles op. 119. The latter are not that commonly played (contrary to the Bagatelles op. 126). I was more moved by the Sonata and what an authoritative interpretation that was!
After the intermission Sokolov played Schubert 4 Impromptus D.935. I read somewhere a critic mentioning that Sokolov’s vision of the work focused on the intimate. It is exactly so and exactly as it should be!
Sokolov, always playing with minimal light, like Richter and Pogorelich, so that the audience can concentrate on the music and not on the pianist, gave a long series of encores, as he generously always do:
Schubert, 4th Impromptu D.899, Rameau, an exhilarating Les Sauvages, Schubert again, Hungarian Melody D. 817, Rameau again, Le Rappel des oiseaux, Scriabin’s Prelude op 24 No 4 and Debussy’s Prélude from Book I “Des pas sur la neige“.
A perfect end to this evening that took us to other worlds!