Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter Archives, Vol. 14: Sviatoslav Richter plays Mozart

(CD - Doremi Records #7909)

Review by

Mozart was one of the half-dozen composers for whom Richter felt a particular affinity, and these recordings come from Richter's peak as a pianist in the mid-'60s through the early '70s. They have all the qualities of Richter at his best: incredible lightness of touch backed with immense power, a varied and subtle color palette, and an incredible sense of blend and balance that lets the melody stand out clearly but always lets it rest securely on the harmony. Richter's grasp of form articulates every detail in exact proportion to its significance in the whole, and his feeling for tempo keeps the music moving in the slowest of slow movements. Rudolf Barshai and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra are superlative accompanists for Richter, supporting him, pushing him, cajoling him yet always admiring him. Considering the origins of these live performances, the sound here is surprisingly tolerable. In short, if you aren't already familiar with Richter's way with Mozart, these recording will provide a wonderful introduction.

Those already familiar with Richter's Mozart should take note that three of the five recordings here have never been available before, that the other two were only previously available on obscure Russian labels, and that one work (Piano Concerto No. 14) is completely new to Richter's discography. As a dubious bonus, Doremi has included a recording of Mozart's C major Piano Sonata recorded live in Austria in 1989. The sound is horrible, but the performances -- what little one can hear -- are magical.

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