Between 1965 and 1967 Benjamin Britten and Sviatoslav Richter teamed up at the Aldeburgh Festival for piano duo programs that were taped by the BBC for future broadcast. Music and Arts brought out this material on several CD issues, which stemmed from excellent tape sources. The selections on Decca's "official" release sound marginally fuller with less tape hiss. Do the performances live up to their legend? In most ways, yes. The dream team understates the theme of Schubert's ravishing Andantino Varié, yet opens up more as the four variations effortlessly segue from one to the next. The Mozart works boast vigor, sensitivity, and a refreshing sense of danger in the outer movements, while the Andantes are flexibly spun and sung. Richter'sRead more prismatic legato is instantly identifiable in the first piano and primo parts. You also can identify Richter by his occasional unwillingness to adjust his accompanimental or decorative figures accordingly when Britten carries the thematic burden. Everything balances out in Debussy's En Blanc et Noir. The composer's slippery late idiom elicits sharply honed ensemble playing that murmurs with light-fingered wit and sparkle. Let's hope Decca will quickly unearth the remaining Schumann and Schubert selections from these priceless concerts.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less