Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter Archives, Vol. 13

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This all-Schumann disc is for Richter specialists only -- those who already have his other recordings of the Piano Concerto (1954, 1958, and 1974) and who can't wait to hear this version from April 17, 1958, with George Georgescu and the USSR State Orchestra, and those who have Richter's 1986 recording of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Etudes on Caprices by Paganini and who want to compare it to this October 19, 1986, recording of the same works made in Takasaki, Japan. But most of all, it's for the cognoscenti who have never heard Richter's previously unreleased recordings of the Märchenbilder for viola and piano with violist Yuri Bashmet made in Moscow on December 13, 1985, and of the Fantasiestücke for cello and piano with cellist Pierre Fournier made in Tours on July 3, 1969.

The target audience will likely swoon upon hearing Richter's demonic and poetic cadenza in the Concerto's opening Allegro affettuoso, his virtuosic and soulful opening Maestoso from the Paganini Caprices, and his sweetly gentle accompaniment in the Märchenbilder's closing Langsam. But they will also likely be disappointed by Georgescu's ham-fisted cues and heavy-handed balances, find the Copenhagen Paganini no more satisfying than the Takasaki recording, and concede that, as poor as the sound quality of many of his finest recordings is, the quality of these issues is in fact much worse.

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