He has been likened to Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Sviatoslav Richter, Glenn Gould; and the comparisons say something.
Sokolov illuminates the inner reaches of the human soul, he unfurls canvases of breathtaking breadth and colour, he is a born dramatist and a superlative craftsman. Like Richter, his technique is both all-embracing and transcendent. His pianism itself can move listeners to tears, and his artistic integrity is both luminous and austere, inspiring audiences the world over. But Sokolov is like no other. Though not the most famous, he is felt by many to be the greatest pianist living. Be it in Byrd, Couperin, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Scriabin or Prokofiev, his tone, rhythmic subtlety and clarity of articulation form a unique and transformational combination.
1955: Starts playing piano.
1957: Enters the Leningrad Conservatoire.
1962: First major recital, in Leningrad.
1965: First prize in the Russian National Competition.
1966: Wins the International Tchaikovsky Competition after a unanimous decision by a jury headed by Emil Gilels; his career starts, but is confined to the USSR and satellite states.
1975: Begins to teach at the Conservatoire in Leningrad (now St Petersburg).
Late 1980s: Starts appearing in the West.
1995: Records his last CD for the next seven years.
2002: A Paris recital is captured for DVD by French director Bruno Monsaingeon.
2008: Continues touring mainly in Europe, giving some 80 concerts a year.