Vladimir Sofronitsky

In his time V.Sofronitzki was considered to be the greatest pianist in Russia, a "living legend". Every Sofronitzki recital was a spiritual event for the public. He was a true poet of the piano, full of improvisatory spirit and inspiration. He had an allencompassing technique and his playing embodied a wide range of colors and textures, but these things could be said about many firstrate pianists. When at his best Sofronitzki's musicmaking seemed to transcend the bounds of normal expression and enter a new realm in which his every emotion would project from within the music and onto his audience. It is this indefinable spirituality of his playing that sets him apart.

Sofronitzki was held in the highest esteem by his colleagues, including Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels and Heinrich Neuhaus. He was a friend of Prokofiev and Shostakovitch, and had a profound influence upon many Russian musicians, from V.Horovitz to Y.Kissin. When Richter and Sofronitzki drank a toast to seal their friendship, Sofronitzki proclaimed Richter a genius; Richter's immediate response was to call Sofronitzki a God. Gilels, upon hearing of Sofronitzki's death, is reputed to have said "the greatest pianist in the world has died."

As he never performed outside Russia after his tour in France in the 1929, his art remained unknown to the Western public until recent years, when some of his recordings appeared in the Philips series "Great Pianists of the 20th century". Others have appeared on Denon and Harmonia Mundi.