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
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.