Royal Festival Hall

Dimitris Sgouros made his British debut on the 24th March 1983 at the Royal Festival Hall, performing Rachmaninoff's Third with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich. 

Review of Dimitris Sgouros' British debut from The Daily Telegraph, Friday 25th March 1983

 "...a debut as auspicious, and as spectacular in its own way as that of the young Horowitz, the young Menuhin, or the young Barenboim." 

Dimitris Sgouros
Rostropovich, LPO

That a 13-year-old can even countenance a work as technically intricate and physically demanding as the Third Piano Concerto of Rachmaninov is extraordinary enough in itself. That the young Greek pianist Dimitris Sgouros, in his London debut at the Festival Hall last night, could go far beyond simply a phenomenal dexterity and invest its music, both in the general and in the particular, with such strength of character was clearly something quite exceptional.

To say that the conductor Rostropovich and the players of the London Philharmonic Orchestra scrupulously nurtured every detail of his performance, although true, would be to underestimate the grippingly individual, and often strikingly original, imprint that he left on all three movements.

The intimidating technical challenges posed by one of the most notoriously difficult works in the concerto repertory, and its searching interpretative problems were met not only with a fearless bravura, but with an almost startling independence and maturity of mind. Where one might have anticipated from so young a pianist a faithful and maybe expertly played copy of one authoritative performance or another by some esteemed musician of the older generation, here everything had not only been freshly and astutely thought but thought through with a remarkable clarity and securely based, yet quite instinctive sounding musical intelligence.

This distinctive quality in his playing was not confined to the more obvious episodes but gave an equally alert sense of independently charged purpose to the decorative passage work and transitional figures, and to his sensitively moulded lyricism in the tenderly musing incidents.

If any allowance had to be made it could only be for a certain lack of body in the sound but, with playing of already so impressive a power and resilience, this is something that will no doubt develop naturally with the years. Looking back from some point in the future, it promises to be a debut as auspicious, and as spectacular in its own way as that of the young Horowitz, the young Menuhin, or the young Barenboim.



Review of Dimitris Sgouros' British debut from The Financial Times, Friday 25th March 1983

Dimitris Sgouros/Festival Hall

It is fair to predict, even with nine months of 1983 still to go, that the first British appearance of Dimitris Sgouros at the Festival Hall last night will be the year's most sensational debut. The name was not entirely new: word had already travelled of the young Greek pianist who gave his first public recital in Piraeus at the age of seven, won several major competitions before his 10th birthday, and played at Carnegie Hall before reaching his teens. That did not make his debut automatically an inviting prospect: expectations are not unnaturally tempered by suspicion of the publicity hype which travels with the baggage of child prodigies. But in the event, not even the most sanguine concert-goer could have hoped to hear a more powerful, more authoritative or in the physical as well as musical sense, more exciting account of Rakhmaninov's third concerto than that which Sgouros gave.

Most striking of all, it did not seem a copied performance, but in every measure original, freshly worked, strongly and concisely felt. There is no doubt that Sgouros knows Horowitz's interpretations well, but those minute desynchronisations and sudden clanging base octaves were only echoes, not copies, of a style and a period of which Horowitz's Rakhmaninov is an inseparable part. He caught the period flavour of the music, indeed - the sentiment, the nostalgia, the lonely fervour - far more acutely than an 13-year-old should rightly be able to catch; and its urgency, so easily smothered by purely sentimental readings, by turns darkly sensuous and flashing with fire.

The technique is astonishingly secure. In the first movement cadenza, he chose the most difficult, alternative version. Sgouros had us on the edge of our seats. In the <???> hardly a stitch was dropped. Most demanding of all tests of mature confidence, he made a perfect, seamless recovery from a left-hand memory lapse near the end.

Even if the full, weight of timbre, is not yet fully developed, it is already very large. Inner voices sparkle: <???> chords are spun off grandly without ever forcing through the tone. The listening is exceptionally keen: Sgouros played with the London Philharmonic never besides <???> the conductor Mstislav Rostropovich gave as many ones as he received. Sgouros is at present studying in London at the Royal Academy of Music. I cannot imagine that his Beethoven, Bach, Chopin or Schumann can possibly be as fine as his Rakhmaninov; but if it is, the RAM is nurturing its first great pianist for many years.

Dominic Gill


Review of Dimitris Sgouros' British debut from The Guardian, Saturday 26th March 1983

Dimitris Sgouros
Festival Hall

The hall was packed with fur-coated, bejewelled ladies and their well-heeled consorts eager to witness the confrontation between the boy-pianist Dimitris Sgouros and that Goliath of a concerto, Rachmaninov No 3. They were not disappointed. The 13-year-old Greek tyro had the power and stamina of someone twice his age and three times his size.

Sgouros was very subdued at the start and the dark, lugubrious tones of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted here by Mstislav Rostropovich, often obscured him altogether. Eventually, however, he made a dash for freedom and began hurling fistfuls of chords around like rocks. In the wide open spaces of the cadenza, he disported himself with great agility and muscularity.

This mini-Horowitz gave the audience a lot to shout about in the impetuous, forward surging finale...

Many of the fur-coated brigade left before or during the Shostakovich 10th Symphony which followed.


M. Bowen


Original programme book

London Philharmonic Orchestra 50th Anniversary Season - British debut of Dimitris Sgouros in the Rachmaninov 3rd Piano Concerto with Mstislav Rostropovich

Patron: His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent



Click for citation from The Musical Times   

Dimitris Sgouros soloist in Mozart's Piano Concerto No 20 with

the London Symphony Orchestra in an historic double billing with Emil Gilels

The London Symphony Orchestra

Patron: Her Majesty The Queen

 July 1984   From left to right:
John Pattrick, Vice President of Angel Records L.A.; Erick Friedman ; Jean-Philippe Collard ; Dimitris Sgouros ;
Dr. Mark P. Malkovich, III, Director Newport Festival, Rhode Island ; Anthony Caronia, Angel Records New York
[special thanks to Mark Malkovich IV for this photograph, drawn from the personal collection of Dr Mark P. Malkovich III]

Gramophone (January 1984)



Dimitris Sgouros with Claudio Abbado

Sgouros concerts in Oxford University (where he pursued studies in post-graduate mathematics)

"This was a Mozartian reading: relaxed, urbane and conversational"


Graduation from Oxford University




Sgouros with Rostropovich and Cecile Ousset at the Harrogate International Festival - "International Celebrity Concerts"


Accompanying Yo-Yo Ma in London, in the presence of mutual friend Tony Shalit, a great patron and connoisseur of the arts


Taking a break during the filming of "Dimitris at 14"

From left to right: John Fraser (EMI producer) ; Anthony Shalit ; a member of film crew ; François Reichenbach (Oscar-winning director) presiding at head of table

Dimitris Sgouros performs Beethoven 3rd Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (April 2009)

Routine programme, exceptional results

"The BBC Orchestra's precision is ideally matched with pianist Dimitris Sgouros' skilful delivery"

A review by Keith Moore (Columbia University)

[click on image to enlarge]


"In his Lisztian encore Sgouros was able to shine in a rhapsodic composition of enormous technical challenge. The work was designed to astonish and Sgouros did just that, easily transforming difficult finger work into aural opulence."


BBC Radio 3 broadcast (February 2011) - Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto with the BBC Symphony under Jiri Belohlavek

 In homage of the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt in 2011, EMI/Warner Classics proudly announces a new double-CD set entitled "Essential Liszt" with landmark recordings by Dimitris Sgouros and other featured Liszt exponents of the modern era


"Essential Liszt" - the much-anticipated new EMI/Warner Classics album (worldwide release July 2011)




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