It would be impossible to say enough good about this two-disc set of Sviatoslav Richter playing Bach. Coupling three English suites and three French suites plus a pair of toccatas and a fantasia in live recordings from 1991 and 1992, Richter gives every movement, line, rhythm, and note its own weight and character, but also conveys every detail's critical function in the work as a whole. One could, for instance, characterize his E flat major French Suite as serene, his F major English Suite as playful, or his D minor Toccata as thoughtful, but doing so would not fully capture Richter's fusion of individuality and inevitability. Everything sounds inspired, even improvised, yet everything also sounds as if it could be this way and no other, as if the performer was merely the conduit through which the music flowed.
Decca's 2007 two-disc set is not quite a straight reissue of Philips' 1994 two-disc set: the sound and sequencing are exactly the same except that the Toccata in C minor that originally closed the second disc is replaced here by the Fantasia in C minor. But in either form, this set is mandatory listening for any Richter fan. Though there is occasional coughing between movements and sustained applause at the end of pieces, the live sound here is remarkably clear and atmospheric.