For the cognoscenti, these are among the greatest performances ever recorded of Liszt's B minor Sonata, his Funérailles, and eight of his Transcendental Etudes. Taped in New York in 1965, in Budapest in 1958, and in Moscow in 1956, Sviatoslav Richter, the titan of Soviet pianists, turns in performances of staggering virtuosity, stunning intensity, and breathtaking impetuosity. His 1965 sonata is irresistible in its sweep, his 1958 Funérailles is unbearable in its strength, and his eight Transcendental Etudes are overwhelming in their sheer superhuman technique. Unfortunately, the sound ranges from cavernous emptiness of New York in 1965 to the echoing dampness of Budapest in 1958 and the bleak harshness of Moscow in 1956. But while the sound's acute and often agonizing limitations may put it outside the tolerance of casual listeners, those who make the effort to hear through the scrim of time and space will be more than rewarded for their pains.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Harmonies poétiques et réligieuses (10), for piano, S. 173 (LW A158)|
|Études d'exécution transcendante (12 Transcendental Etudes), for piano, S. 139 (LW A172)|