Sokolov and Pollini

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Two Great Pianists Are Featured on CDs

Deutsche Grammophon has issued two CD sets that will be of great interest to those who follow the careers of the top pianists.

“Sokolov, The Salzburg Recital” captures on two discs Grigory Sokolov’s performance (or whatever part of it was retained) at the 2008 Salzburg Festival. He begins with two Mozart piano sonatas, K. 280 and K. 332, both in F major. The second part, on the second disc, consists of the 24 Chopin “Preludes.” The program ends with six encores by Scriabin, Chopin, Rameau, and J.S. Bach.

The program notes have much to say about Sokolov’s career and technique, all of which will be of great interest to both teachers and students of the classical keyboard.

A-PolliniOf greater interest is Beethoven’s “Complete Piano Sonatas,” as played by Italian virtuoso Maurizio Pollini. While the program notes are concerned only with the composer’s works, it is well known that Pollini began to record the cycle in 1975 and completed it in time for that CD to appear as a single at the same time this 8-CD boxed set was issued. So this might hold some sort of record—40 years—to complete a project such as this one!

Now, I have studiously avoided making any comments about the quality of playing of either artist in this report. Chopin’s notes are there on the page with as many dynamic markings as the composer chose to include. The same for Beethoven’s. Pollini’s “Moonlight Sonata” is not Schnabel’s or Richter’s or (for all we know) Beethoven’s.

But I read reviews of his recordings of these works, as they appeared over the years, in old editions of “The Penguin Guide”; and they are uniformly highly praised. So I would give careful consideration to this new set.