Sviatoslav Richter

Richter Plays Bach

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AllMusic Review by

As with any "new" Sviatoslav Richter recording, the first order of business is determining what's new to disc and what's been released before. The set indicates that these are live and studio digital recordings from 1991 on the outside, but that only narrows things down to a single year, a single year in which the indefatigable Richter played an enormous number of concerts resulting in an immense number of recordings, usually of the same repertoire.

All the items on the first disc -- the three sonatas (BWV 963, 964, and 966) the four Duets (BWV 802-805), the Capriccio (BWV 993), and the Concerto italiano (BWV 971) -- were recorded in June 1991 and have been previously issued only on Stradivarius. The four English suites on the second and third discs (BWV 806, 808, 809, and 811) were recorded in June and April of that year, and thus are not the recordings of the same works made in March and released on Philips. Similarly, the two French suites (BWV 813 and 815), plus the Toccata (BWV 913) and the Fantasie (BWV 906), were recorded in June and November, and thus are not the recordings of the same works made in March likewise released on Philips. So for Richter fans who don't already have the single-disc Stradivarius discs in their collection, this set will be mandatory listening.

For non-Richter fans, however, the choice will be more complicated. The Russian pianist's approach to Bach, an approach that combines a muscular technique with complete control and an intellectual interpretation, may be anathema to listeners used to the virtuosic velocity of Glenn Gould or the sublimated spirituality of András Schiff. But for listeners who like their Bach played with headlong impetuosity, incandescent intensity, and uncanny intelligence, Richter is the main man, and these splendid-sounding digital recordings will only serve to enhance his legend.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Sonata for keyboard in C major (after J. A. Reincken), BWV 966 (BC L186)
1 02:21
2 03:11
3 01:46
4 03:39
Sonata for keyboard in D major, BWV 963 (BC L182)
5 03:10
6 01:21
7 02:56
8 03:17
Sonata arranged for keyboard in D minor (after BWV 1003, possibly by J.G. Müthel), BWV 964 (BC L184)
9 04:05
10 06:58
11 04:45
12 05:35
13 07:02
14 03:00
15 03:35
16 02:26
17 02:53
Italian Concerto, for solo keyboard in F major (Clavier-Übung II/1), BWV 971 (BC L7)
18 04:15
19 05:50
20 04:07
blue highlight denotes track pick