Sviatoslav Richter

The Beginning of the Legend

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Naturally, this four-disc set is only for dedicated fans of pianist Sviatoslav Richter. Recorded in Moscow between 1948 and 1954 -- the aural equivalent of the Dark Ages and a Lost Continent -- these recordings sound consistently gray, harsh, and cruel, and only listeners who have to hear everything Richter ever recorded will be able to sit through more than a few sides of their relentlessly brutal sonics. And, naturally, for fans of the Russian pianist, these performances will be entirely worth it because although they are among his very earliest recordings, they are as poetic, as heroic, as virtuosic, and as flat-out exciting as anything Richter ever recorded. Accompanied by Kiril Kondrashin, Richter's Prokofiev First Concerto is incredibly powerful, but also unbelievably nuanced, his Brahms' Second Concerto is heavily muscled but still gracefully lyrical, his Saint-Saëns' Fifth Concerto is extravagantly brilliant and slyly mysterious, and his Glazunov First Concerto makes the work sound like the most cogent, charming, and appealing concerto written by a nineteenth century Russian -- pace Tchaikovsky. Some fans might reasonably prefer Richter's transcendentally superhuman 1956 Hungarian performance of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition to this merely magnificently virtuosic performance, but no true fan would want to be without either. These performances have appeared many times before on everything from Melodiya LPs made from reprocessed truck tires to transparent BMG CDs made from gazillions of zeros and ones, and dedicated fans will probably already have them in several different editions. But while anyone not already familiar with Richter's later recordings should check out these discs, even fans who already have several different editions may not be able to resist this Urania edition, which is noisier than most but also more immediate.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Piano Concerto No. 1 in F minor, Op. 92
1 12:05
2 01:26
3 01:24
4 00:53
5 01:01
6 02:26
7 00:43
8 02:01
9 01:16
10 01:26
11 03:30
Pictures at an Exhibition (Kartinki s vïstavski), for piano
12 01:02
13 02:14
14 00:41
15 04:23
16 00:18
17 00:57
18 02:09
19 00:26
20 01:16
21 01:36
22 00:56
23 01:20
24 01:51
25 02:06
26 02:57
27 04:53
28 11:45
blue highlight denotes track pick