Yakov Zak was one of the greatest names in Soviet piano performing and teaching but remained little known abroad, with the possible exception of the United States. From a Jewish family in Odessa like Emil Gilels, three years his junior, he achieved skills worthy of the latter with whom he frequently played in duo. A student of Heinrich Neuhaus, 1st Prize at the Chopin Competition in 1937, with special mention for his interpretation of the mazurkas, his vast repertoire concentrated on Beethoven – late Sonatas, Diabelli Variations – Schubert, Chopin, of course, Brahms with the two Concertos, Rachmaninov's 4th Concerto – preceding Michelangeli – Prokofiev and Medtner, whom he defended with Gilels. Endowed with Olympian technique and a clear, solid sense of form, he remains a model, a humanist whose current discography is amazingly meagre. He died of a heart attack on 28 June 1976, the day after a brutal police interrogation.
PRD/DSD 350 054
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