The Classics: February 16

Sokolov - The Salzburg Recital. Grigory Sokolov (piano) Deutsche Grammophon 2CDs

Now you can hear what we have long been missing.

In his first recording for nearly 20 years the Russian-born ''world's most elusive pianist'', a precious maestro, has allowed his live recital at the Salzburg Festival of 2008 to be released in 2015.

It is his debut for the German record company that got a record contract.

But he has previously ruled out studio recordings, restricts recitals to about 60 a year, and refuses to play in England since 2008 when it introduced new requirements for entry visas.

The first CD contains two Mozart F major piano sonatas, K.280 and K.332.

The second disc has Chopin's 24 Preludes plus a generous treat of six encore items that Sokolov played to an entranced audience (two poemes by Scriabin two mazurkas by Chopin, Rameau's Les Sauvages, and Bach's chorale prelude Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ. )

This exceptional recital displays a mastery of the keys, which says ''I play only what I want to play''.

The pieces are precious sounds respectfully explored, rather than displayed brilliance.

Mozart goes more slowly than usual but seems to show more new facets and meaning.

Chopin's Preludes are a miniature world, again showing study and clarifying them for a listener.

The encores are not tossed-off extras to show off, but music he seems to explain.

Often he seems to give due care to study each phrase in a way that each repeat is different and more enlightening.

The results are certainly breathtaking in their clarity and colour tones.

Highlight: New-world audience for Sokolov's virtuosity.

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