- Intermezzo for piano in B flat minor, Op. 117/2
For this 2016 double-CD release, Deutsche Grammophon has brought together recordings of two recitals Grigory Sokolov performed in Warsaw and Salzburg in 2013, and if this creates the impression of a single major event, it may well be because of the high quality of the sound and the consistent intensity of the music. Sokolov has eschewed making studio recordings, so his live CDs reflect the spontaneity of his passionate interpretations, which presumably can't be captured under controlled conditions, though one suspects that more than a little playing to the audience is involved in these performances. His highly emotional readings of Franz Schubert's "Impromptus, D 899" and the "Three Piano Pieces, D 946" seem to feed off the rapt attention of his listeners, and his elastic rubato and slowed-down tempos in Ludwig van Beethoven's "Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Hammerklavier" suggest a dramatic presentation, where Sokolov treats the work like a 53-minute soliloquy, complete with reflective pauses and emphatic delivery. The encores, a handful of short pieces by Jean-Philippe Rameau and the "Intermezzo in B flat minor" by Johannes Brahms, show even more clearly how Sokolov interacts with his audience, and the applause following these tracks demonstrates the enthusiastic response to his playing.