Chopin: 24 Preludes, opus 28
NOW here's a name we haven't heard in a while. Once-heard-never-forgotten Russian master-pianist Grigory Sokolov will be remembered by many for his individualistic character traits as much as for his phenomenal musicianship. I remember him once turning up to play a concerto carrying what looked suspiciously like a bag of spanners, with which he virtually disassembled the machine to customise it. And no one present will forget his Queen's Hall Festival recital when he played William Byrd with the lights out and the blinds drawn at 11 in the morning. That one provoked Edinburgh outrage and propelled the man onto the news pages. His pianistic genius is all through this glorious performance of Chopin's Preludes, packed with lyical and exquisitely expressive poetry: what a touch he has. He is one of those rare pianists who can create the illusion of a continuous, seamlessly sustained singing line on an instrument where the sound actually decays immediately after hammer strikes string. Pure genius.