Richter the Master, Vol. 3: Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich

Sviatoslav Richter

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Richter the Master, Vol. 3: Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich Review

by James Leonard

This two-disc Decca set of Sviatoslav Richter's 1963 Shostakovich recordings and his 1993 Scriabin and Prokofiev recordings is a re-release of the same recordings in the same order as they appeared in Philips' 1994 Richter Edition. For those not already familiar with the performances, the Scriabin and Prokofiev performances here are among Richter's best in the repertoire. Nobody, not even Horowitz, ever made Scriabin's rhapsodic tempos and voluptuous harmonies sound so inspired, and nobody, not even the composer himself, could out-perform Richter in Prokofiev's muscular piano writing. And his Shostakovich performances are even better. Strong-willed, clear-eyed, and steel-fingered, Richter reveals giddy heights and abysmal depths in the preludes and fugues that even the composer seems not to have known were there in his own recordings.

It must, however, be acknowledged that Richter's choice of repertoire and programming is typically eccentric. For Prokofiev, he picks one of the 10 Pieces, Op. 12; 10 of the 20 Visions fugitives, Op. 22; five of the 10 pieces excerpted from his Cinderella Suites, Opp. 97 and 102, plus two of the lesser-known sonatas (No. 4 and No. 6) and all four of the hardly known Pieces (4) Op. 32. For Shostakovich, he picks five of the well-known 24 Preludes and Fugues, Op. 87, but completely switches around their order. For Scriabin, he picks one very early, very Chopin-esque piece -- the Fantaisie, Op. 28 -- and four very late, very decadent pieces -- the Poème-nocturne, Op. 61; the Deux danses, Op. 73; and Vers la flamme, Op. 72. Even for listeners who know the music and the performer well, the result is fresh and challenging. The live digital recordings of Scriabin and Prokofiev are big, close, and sometimes a bit harsh. The studio stereo recordings of Shostakovich are a bit hard and a tad distant, but very vivid.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Pieces (10) for piano, Op. 12
1 Sviatoslav Richter 03:46 SpotifyAmazon
Visions fugitives (20), for piano, Op. 22
2 Sviatoslav Richter 01:13 SpotifyAmazon
3 Sviatoslav Richter 00:51 SpotifyAmazon
4 Sviatoslav Richter 00:23 SpotifyAmazon
5 Sviatoslav Richter 00:27 SpotifyAmazon
6 Sviatoslav Richter 01:29 SpotifyAmazon
7 Sviatoslav Richter 01:02 SpotifyAmazon
8 Sviatoslav Richter 00:54 SpotifyAmazon
9 Sviatoslav Richter 00:57 SpotifyAmazon
10 Sviatoslav Richter 00:43 SpotifyAmazon
11 Sviatoslav Richter 01:37 SpotifyAmazon
Pieces (4) for piano, Op. 32
12 Sviatoslav Richter 02:46 SpotifyAmazon
13 Sviatoslav Richter 03:14 SpotifyAmazon
Pieces (6) for piano (from the ballet Cinderella), Op. 102
14 Sviatoslav Richter 03:26 SpotifyAmazon
Pieces (3) for piano (from the ballet Cinderella), Op. 95
15 Sviatoslav Richter 02:28 SpotifyAmazon
Pieces (10) for piano (from the ballet Cinderella), Op. 97
16 Sviatoslav Richter 01:05 SpotifyAmazon
17 Sviatoslav Richter 01:44 SpotifyAmazon
Pieces (6) for piano (from the ballet Cinderella), Op. 102
18 Sviatoslav Richter 06:26 SpotifyAmazon
Preludes & Fugues (24), for piano, Op. 87
19 Sviatoslav Richter 09:50 SpotifyAmazon
20 Sviatoslav Richter 05:45 SpotifyAmazon
21 Sviatoslav Richter 04:55 SpotifyAmazon
22 Sviatoslav Richter 08:22 SpotifyAmazon
23 Sviatoslav Richter 08:19 SpotifyAmazon
24 Sviatoslav Richter 05:32 SpotifyAmazon
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