Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter Archives, Vol. 10

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For any sane listener, six discs of five nights of solo piano recitals by almost anybody in poor to awful sound would be out of the question. But for fans of Sviatoslav Richter, the man whom they hail as the greatest pianist of the twentieth century, the prospect of six discs of his five concerts given in late October 1960 in Carnegie Hall, all of which featured different programs is cause to twist and shout. Indeed, their only regret may be that not every note played by Richter over those five nights is present in this set. There are, of course, good reasons and extenuating circumstances -- Richter played Scriabin's Fifth Sonata twice on October 30, for example, and the recording here is the performance he played as an encore. But what is present, and that's almost everything he played, is astounding in its breadth and depth: six Beethoven sonatas including a furious Appassionata; six Prokofiev pieces including a monumental Eighth Sonata plus a delightful Gavotte from Cinderella played as encores on two different nights; luminous performances of Debussy's Suite Bergamasque, Images I, L'isle joyeuse plus a couple of preludes; three of Schumann's intimate Novelettes and his ardent three-movement Fantasie in C major; 14 of Rachmaninov's dark preludes; and Scriabin's blazing Fifth Sonata. Despite the best efforts of Doremi's engineers, the sound still ranges from barely tolerable to nearly intolerable, but for those willing to listen through the distortions, Richter's performances are truly amazing. Try any piece from his incandescent Appassionata to his ecstatic Fantasie to his sensual Images to his passionate preludes. Try his astonishingly expressive Schubert's A flat major Impromptu or his blazing Scriabin sonata: any sane listener exposed to more than a handful of Richter's performances from this set will invariably become a fan of the Russian pianist.

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