The finger work was impressive though, with one tangle of counterpoint after another, plus a sustained passage for crossed hands. The piece reveals its heart during the lyric and disarming 18th variation. From there to the end, Salov was no longer holding back as he infused his playing with force as well as grace.
…it is hard to believe Salov is even playing the same instrument as the others… his magic touch in the dolce episodes leaves the listeners flabbergasted.
"Mr. Salov gave an astounding interpretation of Liszt's colossal B-minor sonata. Thirty minutes at the end of which I was brought to tears. Inspired, thoughtful, with a clarity of play allowing drama to circulate from one hand to the other. Yes, I was listening to a great pianist."
The musician's own concert transcription of Igor Stravinsky's 20th century orchestral masterpiece The Rite of Spring was a revelation, while showcasing his highly impressive arranging skills. Although it still begs the question why anyone would invest several years not just painstakingly transcribing from several sources, but also memorizing and performing this musical beast, Salov's virtuosic delivery presented a unique opportunity to hear the work's complex harmonies in all their dissonant glory.
(...) "At least Salov's glittering technique and splendid ear for nuance and tone colour make the best case on Shamo's behalf. His own transcription of (non-watered down) Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring is bound to raise purists' eyebrows by way of its textual emendations and massive, arguably unidiomatic rubatos. No bassoonist would be caught dead wigggling around the opening motive as Salov does, nor would any conductor wishing to keep his or her job dare to stretch "Spring Rounds" to the edge of immobility. (...) Imagine Messiaen rewriting the Rite, and you'll get the gist of Salov's remarkable and beautifully engineered tour de force. Better still, hear it for yourself."
"If you want to know what real piano virtuosity sounds like, you have to listen to this CD. Salov's performance is characterised by great sensitivity and a very strong feeling for the colours of the music.(...)
The main event on this disc is of course Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring'. Here Salov sets out his credentials as both pianist and arranger with phenomenal success, using every resource to convey the impact of the archaic in Stravinsky's music. The rhythms, which have his fingers scuttling across the keyboard like millipedes, are not his only concern. His main priority is to bring out the orchestral colours and moods as intensely as possible, in order to reflect the sensuous quality of the music. And he succeeds brilliantly!
(... ) "Salov's performance of these two works merits the greatest admiration, for sheer virtuosity and the discrete quality of tone he achieves in all areas of attack and wariness of touch. This is a CD that deserves to outsell most other recordings in these days, weeks and months."
"In this astonishing and mind boggling transcription for solo piano, Serhiy (Sergei) Salov has managed to retain and even enhance the music's magic. The mysterious and bold harmonies, the savagery of the rhythms, the orchestral colours and shadows, the inner spirit of the score, all of that has been adapted directly to the keyboard and re-constructed faithfully to bring out every minute little detail ranging from the strangely evocative opening notes to the wildest passages in the Dance of the Earth. Salov must have poured over every single note in the orchestral score many times over in order to determine which ones would make the final piano cut and in which role."
"The Sacred Spring of Slavs CD features the work of an unknown Ukrainian composer, Ihor (or Igor) Shamo, whose pleasant Hutsulian Watercolours are a fitting tribute to their name, as well an exceptional creative feat: an arrangement for solo piano by Serhiy Salov of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. It’s a daring wager, when one considers the complexity of the orchestral work and the composer’s virtuostic deployment of the four-hand arrangement for piano—a composer who, in 1916, also created a piano reduction for pianola, a hiccoughing thing that can be heard on conductor Benjamin Zander’s website and that in no way compares, from a musicality standpoint, to the sheer frenzy of Salov’s arrangement. The Ukrainian pianist could well make a name of himself with this daring though masterfully-executed project. My only reservation has to do with some of the calmer sections (e.g. Spring Rounds), which seem a little disassembled and bring down the level of excitement. A minor reservation in the face of such a feat."
"Salov made a positive impression, a pianist to hear again, a wish delivered quicker than expected with an encore, one of Brahms’s numerous miniatures – the Intermezzo in A (I believe), the second piece of the Opus 118 collection – to which Salov brought a hauntingly susceptible response to some of Brahms’s most private thoughts captured in music, and also found deeper tones from the Steinway. This resonating ‘extra’ was altogether special from Salov who is just about to release a CD on Analekta entitled “The Sacred Spring of Slavs”, which includes the pianist’s transcription of The Rite of Spring."
(...) "One of the most consummate works of the concerto repertoire, the 2nd piano concerto by Brahms is an immensely demanding work for the soloist, as well as for the conductor and the orchestra. We have witnessed at the piano a sparkling virtuoso who had won the 2004 competition. Salov's sheer power of sound production was complemented by the maturity of the interpretation of this 30-year old, a finesse of the phrasing as well as variety of the sound gradations". (...)
"Yesterday night, Serhiy Salov has managed to stay remote from the sheen of a superficial bravoura. His commanding presence at the piano has contributed to powerful yet warm tone and phrasing. Not one gesture was rushed or incongruous. The score seemed to be breathing with inspiration, the sound production exquisite. In the slow movement, these qualities contributed to a truly sublime moments. In the other three, they have allowed a better contemplation of the architecture of this imposing edifice, introducing its every small detail, from every angle. " (...)