Sviatoslav Richter

Schubert: "Wanderer" Fantasy

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These classic recordings from the early '60s are a taste of what made Richter such a fantastic performer. It is the brilliant musical interpretation that stands above all else in his playing. It is hard to imagine anyone using more energy in the opening of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy and still give it shape and meaning. The second section is as soft and beautiful as the opening is energetic. The final section combines the energy and soft lyricism. Throughout the sections, there is a sense of unity, not just because they are thematically related, but because Richter connects them emotionally. The Schumann Fantasy begins proudly heroic, but immediately the mood switches to humble admiration, and as it progresses, switching back and forth between moods, it still has that sense of being whole and right. The middle movement is again proud, but more picturesque than the first movement, while the mood of the final movement is like the middle of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata, sedate and lyrical. Papillons is from a live recording, so there is some audience noise, but the performance is faded out before any applause can be heard at the end. It has a more "engineered" sound than the fantasies, but Richter's playing is just as brilliant, albeit more idiosyncratic. The contrasting miniatures tend to fly by quickly, full of life. The two fantasies really capture the essence of Richter's pianism, how awe-inspiring and magnificent it is.

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