I could not believe what I witnessed today here in Switzerland. This is a story I just had to tell. Sokolov’s reply was legendary.
There has been a piano festival going on here, and this afternoon
there was a talk given by Alfred Brendel and his friend, writer Martin Meyer (I read their book of conversations.) Brendel wanted to talk about his favorite pianists Cortot, Fischer, and Kempff, and Meyer decided to pit their recorded examples of repertoire with direct comparisons against “inferior” pianists. But he did so by asking Brendel to comment on those yet-undisclosed pianists, and Brendel said such things as “Oh this pains my ears, I don’t even want to talk about this.” Meyer said, “But Mr. Brendel, this is Sokolov.” The audience gasped, because in one hour
Sokolov would be presented in the very hall here. They proceeded to trash two of Sokolov’s Chopin Prelude recordings, and recordings of Argerich, Pogorelich, and Cziffra. Sokolov an hour later started his recital of Bach, Brahms, and Schumann. When it came time for encores, he walked onto stage and played, clearly making a statement, the very two preludes that had been trashed by Meyer and Brendel a short bit before. Their behavior was beyond words, and I admired Sokolov’s courage.
Sokolov played six encores total.