Sviatoslav Richter

Sonatas with Richter

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Looking at the cover of this album, there's little doubt that Alto Records seeks to capitalize on the widespread and well-deserved name recognition of pianist Sviatoslav Richter. However, violinist Oleg Kagan was just as much a star as Richter, and the two collaborated on many occasions. Despite Richter's top billing, both musicians are equal stars on this album and they provide listeners with chamber music performances in the truest sense of the term. Kagan was widely regarded as a great interpreter of Mozart, and this live recording of the K. 378 Sonata provides an example of why. Kagan possesses a cleanliness and purity of tone that are neither hesitant nor forceful, achieving an ideal balance between the two extremes. Richter's Mozart is equally engaging, matching every nuance of articulation and dynamic with the violin. The Brahms G major Sonata is appropriately much more weighty. The first movement is quite brisk -- perhaps too fast for Vivace ma non troppo -- but the duo manages to pull it off. The Adagio second movement is opulent and spacious, while the finale demonstrates a level of mystery and intrigue with a more controlled, restrained tempo choice than the first movement. Also on the album is a graceful Haydn Piano Sonata, but the true jewels of the CD are the stunning performances given by these two longtime collaborators.

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