Sviatoslav Richter

Biography

Born: March 20, 1915; Russia   Died: August 1, 1997; Russia  
Having learned the fundamentals of music from his father, Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter taught himself the piano and had already given public concerts before entering the Moscow Conservatory in 1937. While still a student, Richter won first prize at the All-Union Contest of Performers of 1945. His playing earned him considerable renown, and by the time of his graduation in 1947 he had devoted fans. In 1949 he garnered the coveted Stalin Read more Prize.

Richter gave the 1942 premiere of Sergei Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 6 -- the composer's first work in that form for years, and the first one he did not premiere himself. This resulted in wild acclaim for both performer and composer. Thereafter, Richter was a great proponent of Prokofiev's music, premiering also the Seventh and the Ninth Sonatas, the latter of which is dedicated to him.

Though word of Richter's excellence (and occasional poor-quality recordings) had spread outside of Russia, his foreign engagements were limited to Eastern Bloc countries (and, in one case, China) where Soviet officials felt there was reduced risk of defection. However, his 1958 performance of Prokofiev's Fifth Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra (on tour in Leningrad) generated such excitement that he was finally permitted to tour the United States, further bolstering his reputation as a virtuoso. Engagements in all of world's musical centers followed. Richter was known as a pianist of transcendent abilities, particularly adept at highlighting the nuances of different styles. Though his interests focused primarily on music of Beethoven, and Prokofiev, he was also highly regarded for his Schubert, Schumann, Bach, Debussy, and Ravel; and in the early 1960s he made a memorable recording of Benjamin Britten's Piano Concerto with the composer conducting.

Richter did not favor studio recordings; therefore, most of his recordings are from live performances. Many of them, particularly those from Soviet concerts, suffer from indifferent sound quality and excessive audience noise, but his playing had an electric quality that transcended these handicaps.

The pianist earned a reputation for being difficult and aloof. He was notoriously apt to cancel performances on whims, or arrive late without explanation or apology. However, those who heard him were rarely disappointed. He preferred intimate concert settings over big auditoriums, and thus returned many times to the Aldeburgh and Spoleto Festivals. He was the centerpiece of the Fętes Musicales, held annually beginning in 1964 at Grange de Meslay, near Tours.

Among his greatest recordings are his Schubert sonatas, Rachmaninov and Prokofiev concertos, Liszt concertos (these have the benefits of first-rate sound), and his Schumann. He has also served as a chamber musician and accompanist, playing piano duets with Britten, and accompanying Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, among others. Read less

Hammerklavier - Live In London / Sviatoslav Richter
Release Date: 08/12/2014   Label: Stradivarius  
Catalog: 33989   Number of Discs: 1
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Sviatoslov Richter Archives Vol 21 -  Medtner
Release Date: 04/12/2011   Label: Doremi Records  
Catalog: 8010   Number of Discs: 1
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Legendary Treasures - Sviatoslav Richter Archives Vol 10
Release Date: 02/14/2006   Label: Doremi Records  
Catalog: 7864   Number of Discs: 6
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The Russian Archives - Richter Plays Beethoven
Release Date: 10/30/2012   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94399   Number of Discs: 3
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Legendary Treasures - Sviatoslav Richter Archives Vol 1
Release Date: 03/17/1998   Label: Doremi Records  
Catalog: 7718   Number of Discs: 1
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There are 320 Sviatoslav Richter recordings available.

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