Notes and Editorial Reviews
The C minor first movement is all fierce concentration and bleakness, the second intense inner singing, the third deceptive simplicity with weighted silences, and the finale has a hellish drive — an utterly compelling experience.
As any follower of Richter's Schubert knows, you have to allow his sense of time to take over. Resist it and you will draw a blank. Submit to it and you will pass through an unsuspected doorway into an inner world of timeless inevitability. The C minor first movement is all fierce concentration and bleakness, the second all intense inner singing, the third deceptive simplicity with silences weighted as if hovering over the music's own demise, and the finale has a hellish drive to it—an utterly
compelling experience. Monumental as ever, the first movement of the B flat Sonata is immensely slow, the tempo chosen not with the opening theme in mind but with a view to the G flat trill and the following silence, reminders of the chasm beneath. Don't expect any consolation from the slow movement or Grecian lightness from the scherzo; all is directed towards the controlled desperation of the finale. Any duffer (to paraphrase Goethe) can make this sonata touching; but with Richter it becomes (to risk malicious misunderstanding) appalling. It bores into the soul.
-- Gramophone [1/1994, reviewing Olympia 335]
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