Notes and Editorial Reviews
A staggering testimony to Richter's formidable virtuosity, and in musical terms alone this disc should have its own niche in every collection!
Taped in Sofia, Bulgaria, in February 1958, this recital by Sviatoslav Richter has long been a discographic legend. Having been tremendously impressed by new digital transfers of other recordings in the "Philips 50" series, I should register at the outset a slight element of disappointment with the still limited dynamic range, variable keyboard focus, and sometimes infuriating distortion that still persists here. It may well be that the original masters were simply too primitive to improve upon, but nevertheless your ear should adjust quite readily to the sonic
shortcomings of this disc, if indeed your intellect and imagination haven't already been completely seduced by the transcendent mastery of this piano playing.
Richter's interpretation of Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition is often said to be definitive, and indeed there are few (if any) rival interpretations of the original piano version of the work that can leave you totally convinced you'd rather hear this than Ravel's orchestration. Your response to the remaining works on this disc, by Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, and Rachmaninov, will be largely determined by subjective considerations. The two Schubert Impromptus and the Moment Musical in C, the first of the D780 set, are possibly the most emotionally searching and lyrically intense performances of these pieces ever committed to disc. Personally, I find Richter's almost painful intensity disconcerting, and the same also could be said for his performance of the Chopin Étude in E Op. 10 No. 3.
The Liszt pieces are a staggering testimony to Richter's formidable virtuosity, and in musical terms alone this disc should have its own niche in every collection! Incidentally, this material was last issued in a two-disc package from the Philips "Great Pianists of the 20th Century" series, alongside Richter's performances of Prokofiev's piano sonatas Nos. 6, 7, and 8, though their absence from this latest reissue of the Sofia recital shouldn't deter you from obtaining these recordings if you missed them previously.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Pictures at an Exhibition for Piano by Modest Mussorgsky
Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Written: 1874; Russia
Date of Recording: 02/1958
Venue: Live Sofia, Bulgaria
Length: 30 Minutes 24 Secs.
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