Valeriy Sokolov at the RNCM

Posted on January 28, 2010

Young violinist Valeriy Sokolov is quite a hot property this year. Manchester Camerata has him booked to play Beethoven’s concerto at the Bridgewater Hall on March 13, and then the Hallé have him to do the Sibelius on April 15.  But Manchester Chamber Concerts Society got in first, and presented him in recital with his pianist colleague Evgeny Izotov at the Royal Northern College of Music on Monday night.  His concert was reviewed on

“So what’s the fuss about? He’s a wonderful technician in the classic mould – nothing seems too difficult, every note emerges polished and glowing. It helps if you have a 1703 Stradivarius to play on, of course.

His opening Bach sonata (C minor, BWV 1017) was a demonstration of the 20th century way to play. Slightly odd, in a way, that 18th century music played on an 18th century violin should sound so modern, and there was no concession to period purism here. Seductive vibrato, clean part-playing, careful articulation and calculated ‘terrace’ dynamics were the order of the day, and Izotov remained subservient.

Schubert’s sonata in A major (D574) gave more opportunity for that lovely and elegant tone, and if there was little magic in the gentle moments, there was evidence of Sokolov’s genuine enjoyment of Schubert’s energetic scherzo.

The meat of the programme, though, was to be in Prokoviev’s massive, almost symphonic, sonata no. 1 in F minor. The duo preceded it with the same composer’s Five Melodies (op. 35b), which had their gorgeous and tender moments.

But the sonata calls for inspiration and passion as well as virtuosity, on the part of both players, and they rose to it. Sokolov characterised the will-o’-the-wisp scales at the end of the first movement memorably – they play their part again at the close of the work – and the duo achieved some real textural subtlety in the lyrical Andante.”