Sviatoslav Richter

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1; Piano Sonata, Op. 54

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Sure, there have been other virtuoso recordings of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major. But for sheer bravura excitement, no other recording can touch the RCA recording of Sviatoslav Richter with Charles Münch and the Boston Symphony from early November 1960. Richter's tone is bright, luminous, and sonorous and his technique is brilliant, poised, and powerful. And Richter's interpretation is so exuberant in the opening Allegro con brio, so deep in the central Largo, and so delightfully goofy in the closing Rondo that even the greatest recordings pale in comparison. Münch is a genial and sympathetic accompanist. The Boston Symphony plays with beauty of tone and ease of ensemble. And RCA captured it all on wonderfully warm stereo sound pressed on thick, juicy LPs that were the sin qua non of recorded sound in the early '60s. And Richter's equally glorious late November 1960 recording of Beethoven's gracefully reckless two-movement Piano Sonata in F major is a charming pendant to the Piano Concerto.

With this JVC reissue of RCA's recording, the best just got better. While most later reissues of the recording on LP were pressed on progressively cruder vinyl and most reissues of the recording on CD were embedded in progressively harder plastic, JVC has restored all the depth and reality and warmth of the original LP to the sound. This is as good as it gets in this world.

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