Until I came across some of his recordings on Amazon Germany's and UK's websites by chance recently, I had never heard Koroliov's name. Born in 1949 and trained by some famous teachers (including Neuhaus and Oborin, no less) in Moscow, Koroliov now lives in Germany. Judging from his biography, he obviously belongs to a group of superbly-gifted Russian pianists.
This 2-CD set (made in 1999) is the first recording by Koroliov I bought after reading some very favourable reviews on Amazon. I must say it is well up to my expectations. Clean articulation, clarity of sound and total lack of idiosyncrasy are some of the main virtues. The tempi are well-judged. All the repeats are played.
I've always liked Angela Hewitt's recording (also made in 1999). Her style is a little more pianistic, making full use of the piano's capabilities, and her rubato is beautifully done. But, Koroliov uses less rubato, and his style is a little more straightforward. Embellishments are sparse and apt.
The digital recording is excellent and the sound is totally natural. This 2-CD set is not cheap, but it is well worth acquiring.
Separately, there is a DVD recording (issued by MediciArts) of the same work by this pianist when he performed at the Bach Festival at Gewandhaus in Leipzig in 2008. An unassuming and unpretentious musician, he shows an impeccable style and taste as in the current CDs.
Give this a listen, 2 or 3 times well spaced. Enter a new world of clarity, timing, interpretive subtlety that isn't Gould's magificent ego For years I have looked for a version that isn't twee, that has the emotional depth of Gould, but that lacks his interference patterns. This is it. promise you. The conditioned ear needs a few hearings to adjust. But then it happens and you see, feel, hear the music in a new light. It transforms from tamed to profound and you hear it like the cello suites instead of a piece of fairly tame Phil Spector. Gould was a character but he really did not help this music. This gets you free of him. Plus it is piano as isn't pretending to be harpsichord, which I like. Modern and timeless together. Totally magificent.