After his participation in the 2015 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Sergei Babayan noted of Georgijs Osokins that ‘he has a very rare gift of a true Chopinist... This young musician is exceptionally talented.’
This talent was on show for all to hear in his debut album of late Chopin for Piano Classics (PCL0109). Now Osokins moves between the contrasting worlds of Chopin and Rachmaninov with the same unruffled authority as his seamless legato.
As his first lengthy composition for piano, Rachmaninov’s set of Chopin Variations Op.22 is a rare bird both in recital and on record, and rarer still in its complete form, as presented here. Osokins also takes the rare option, authorised by the composer, of playing the full theme both at the beginning and end of the Variations, lending to it a shape and coherence missing from several other, more storied versions.
Indeed Osokins places himself in the distinguished tradition of Earl Wild and his forebears stretching back to Liszt, both in terms of his dazzling technical assurance and his repertoire, which encompasses original transcriptions as much as Romantic-era masterpieces. To follow the Variations he plays Wild’s version of ‘In the Silence of the Secret Night’ Op.4 No.3 – a brooding, melancholy nocturne of a song – and a sensual take on ‘How Fair This Spot’ by Arcadi Volodos. Then there is Rachmaninov’s own, early Barcarolle, a rarely heard collection of Fragments (from 1917, the year of his exile to the US) and a version of the famous Vocalise which is the work of many hands, including Ososkins, who rounds off the album in the grand style with his own transcription of the ‘Nunc Dimittis’ from the Vespers.
The main work on this new recording are the mighty Variations on a Theme by Chopin (the C minor Prelude). The Chopin Variations suffer unjustly from the fame of their elder brothers (resp. The second Piano Sonata and the Corelli Variations), yet they are truly the works of the same genius, in their broad and expansive romantic language, their pianistic glittering and bravura and their true Russian Soul.
Furthermore Georgijs Osokins presents several transcriptions of Rachmaninoff Songs, among which the famous Vocalise.
Georgijs Osokins, born into a family of Latvian musicians’/pianists, gained international attention through his participation at age 19 in the Chopin Competition 2015, where his performances received either superlatives or led to controversy. His playing is of a rare originality, based on a deep musical intuition, a strong sense of rhetoric and an immaculate technique. His teachers include Sergei Babayan, Dimitri Bashkirov (“This young musician is exceptionally talented”) and Georg-Friedrich Schenk (renowned teacher of a.o. Evgeny Bozhanov and Sukyeon Kim). He regularly plays with Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica, and has upcoming recitals in the Fribourg series and the Ruhr Piano Festival.