Sviatoslav Richter

Portrait of a Legend: Richter

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What a cornucopia is contained in this four disc set for fans of the Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter! In total, there are 19 different pieces recorded live in England between 1961 and 1966 with half the recordings from the Royal Albert Hall and half from the Aldeburgh Festival. Three-quarters of the performances here are solo while one-quarter are with orchestra, and though they are all typically atypical, each performance deserves to be heard by Richter's fans. Some of these performances -- the two Liszt concertos and the Hungarian Fantasia with Kiril Kondrashin conducting the London Symphony Orchestra from July 18, 1961, for example -- have long been available on major labels. Others performances -- the Prokofiev Fourth Sonata and Scriabin Ninth Sonata from Aldeburgh on June 19, 1966 -- have only been available on various small, independent labels. But although the sound is in many cases antique and in only a few cases tolerable, Richter's performances are often magnificent -- his intense Schubert E minor Sonata from June 20, 1964 -- and in a few cases unbeatable -- his glorious "Wanderer" Fantasy from February 2, 1963. This four-disc set is clearly not for every listener; those unfamiliar with the pianist would be better served by one of his many commercial recordings or collections. But fans of the pianist who don't already have these performances will have to hear them.

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