Review from Stereo Review - January 1985
RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 3, in D Minor, Op. 30. Dimitris Sgouros (piano); Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Yuri Simonov cond. ANGEL LP DS-38105 $11.98, Cassette 4XS-38105 $11.98
Boy wonder Dimitris Sgouros made his London debut at the age of thirteen in this most formidable and sophisticated of the Rachmaninoff concertos. A year later, at the ripe old age of fourteen, he undertook the present recording.
Speed and brilliance, verging on the hectic, characterize the opening movement working up to the larger of the Rachmaninoff cadenzas, which young Sgouros milks for all it's worth... To the finale Sgouros brings a prickly, nervous quality...
Here, then, is "wow" technique in excelsis, fully aided and abetted by conductor Yuri Simonov and accorded luxuriant, digitally recorded sound. It's a fascinating record, but it will be interesting to see whether in ten years, say, Sgouros can match the musicianship and poise of an Ashkenazy in this work. For the present, one thing is sure: nobody needs to worry about this lad's technical prowess!
[ See below for contrasting reviews from The Times of London and Swiss & German press ]
[Click on image to read the LP liner notes]
DOWNLOAD MP3 - Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 3 - Dimitris Sgouros, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jesús López-Cobos (Live Berlin)
Review of Dimitris Sgouros' British debut in the Rachmaninov 3rd Concerto from The Times (of London), Friday 25th March 1983
Writing as someone who at the age of 13 was still struggling up the ladder of the Associated Board, I find myself nonplussed by the very idea of a boy of that age tackling one of the most vastly clattering warhorses in the piano concerto repertory, Rachmaninov's third.But last night Dimitris Sgouros did it, and not only did it, but triumphed, and not only triumphed, but triumphed quietly. That was the greatest surprise; his control over himself. His sheer technical ability could have been predicted, since Mstislav Rostropovich, conducting, would hardly have associated himself with the child had it been otherwise. But if one had expected a merely flashy, showy interpretation, the truth was remarkably different.
Mr Sgouros played with dignity and with purity, and in doing so he completely dispelled any embarrassment there might have been at the spectacle of a boy aping grown-up histrionics.
In this the choice of work turned out to be exceedingly helpful. Rachmaninov's, of all music, is the music of adolescence, and to hear it played by this adolescent was to hear it at home, sounding genuine and serene in all its melancholy, force and capriciousness, sounding for once thoroughly composed. It would therefore be an injustice to Mr Sgouros to say that he performed like a mature musician; that could never have been the case, and the attempt would have been disastrous. In any event, there are enough mature musicians around.
What Mr Sgouros has to offer is something much rarer: it is complete virtuoso competence in the artless accents of a child. It is, like a treble voice, something that is transient, but to hear it in music - as fearsomely difficult as this is a quite extraordinary experience.
The surprise of Mr Sgouros's quietness - little quietness at first - took some getting used to, as he too took a little while to settle. But then, suddenly, he found himself. The quietness was not reticence, but self-possession, as the first movement cadenza, big but also delicate, confident but also grounded in fragile innocence, confirmed the perfect rightness of this view of the work.
Indeed, it was not a view at all, but rather a total, exact inhabiting. The slow movement had its sprays of decoration all lustrous and naturally articulated, and if there was a little awkwardness in the most taxing passages of the finale, I have not heard adult hands do better, only cover more artfully.
More to the point was Mr Sgouros's retention throughout of a fine pearly tone and razor-sharp chording. He must surely have a brilliant future. And he looks as if he can cope with it.
October 1984 - Lucerne
Dimitris Sgouros: Expectations Surpassed
An Outstanding Experience - Rachmaninov's 3rd Piano Concerto
“Unbelievable Virtuosity - Sgouros mastered even the most difficult passages... you could not stop being amazed. Everything seemed a matter of course, of instinctive certainty. Sgouros - unlike some other pianists - could emphasize a musical interpretation rather than a mere presentation of technical feats... the music was silhouetted throughout, such that even the smallest fragments of melody emerged vividly.”
"The most essential element of his interpretation was the savouring of the dramatic at all levels. Even the main theme of the first movement [of Rachmaninov's 3rd Concerto] was not simple and plain but attained an unheard of voltage through the deployment of arresting accents, rubato and quasi improvisando playing. This intensity and concentrated awareness of the playing coursed like a red thread through all three movements."
January 1985 - Rhein-Zeitung (Koblenz)
“At the end you do not know what was more striking, the spiritual maturity of this slender young man or his inexhaustible, one might almost say abnormal physical force with which he hammers the staccato in the keys - a veritable hurricane unleashed - the agility of his fingers in the sparkling runs and arpeggios, the fantastically precise grip in the prestissimo chords or the quirky, picturesque phrasing with which Sgouros can freely express extra emotions.”
„Am Ende weiss man nicht, was mehr frappierte, die geistige Reife dieses schlanken Jünglings oder dessen schier unerschöpfliche, fast möchte man sagen abnorme physische Kraft, mit der er die Staccati in die Tasten hämmert und Orkans entfesselt, die Gelenkigkeit seiner Finger in den perlenden Läufen und Arpeggien, die traumhaft präzise Griffsicherheit in den Prestissimo-Akkordballungen oder die erregenden skurrilen, pittoresken Phrasierungsfloskeln, mit denen Sgouros zusätzliche Emotionen freiwerden lässt.“
Clavier Magazine - "Sgouros, on the basis of this performance, seems to have the makings of one of the century's great pianists"
Ovation Magazine Special Tribute Edition - Dimitris Sgouros awarded First Prize for his recordings, "strikingly outdistancing the competition..."
Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy's private seaside villa in Epidavros (Greece) where he gave artistic advice to Dimitris Sgouros early in his career
(Ashkenazy and Sgouros first became acquainted in 1981/82 at the "Festival de Musique en Mer" in France)
Sgouros with Vladimir Ashkenazy and the London Philharmonia in December 2004
Performance of the Brahms Piano Quintet
".. the Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor was given a poised and coherent reading that showed all parties concerned to be on the same wavelength. Sgouros must be commended for highlighting the inner lines of the score. The concert ended with a brilliant rendition of the Scherzo from Dvorak's Piano Quintet Op 81. The audience applauded warmly."
"Dimitris Sgouros is surely on his way to recording all the standard repertoire. But for once I don't mind the duplications. What a piano player he is! I can't wait to hear his next recording."
- Roger Milton, Beverly Hills, CA [High Performance Review]
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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