This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
From the very beginning of the Piano Quintet it is obvious that this is to be a performance on a grand scale: Richter's opening gestures are splendidly oratorical and the strings respond with passionate, gutty vehemence. The sustained quiet monochrome at the outset of the fugue establishes the other end of the gestural scale and throws into strong relief both the arrival or espressivo playing (at the entry of the piano: the contrast between what piano and strings can and cannot do is a strong expressive resource in this reading) and the huge but masterfully controlled crescendo later in the movement. The Scherzo does not, perhaps, have quite the venom that other, faster interpretations find in it, but its power and weight are vast. And
besides, the centre of gravity of this performance lies unmistakably in the ensuing, deceptively titled "Intermezzo". From the exquisitely phrased violin melody at the beginning the music is unfolded with an intense concentration that has the audience (the recording was made at a public concert) almost visibly on the edge of its seat. The dry staccato that Richter adopts at the height of the movement seems to confirm, somehow, its sober earnestness, and the suspense of his beautifully handled transition into the finale has never seemed more tangible.
The range of colour that they display in the quintet makes it clear that the Borodin Quartet (this is the 'new' Borodin Quartet, re-formed after two of its members left Russia to form the Borodin Trio in the West) has all the resources needed by the other two works on this record. Perhaps their reading of the Seventh Quartet is the more praiseworthy, since it is the more intimate and elusive of the two, a poignant epitaph for the composer's first wife, all the more moving for its enigmatic privacy, its refusal to lament overtly, to describe the indescribable. The almost unbearable intensity of the Eighth Quartet is also well within these players' range; they are a shade fast in the finale, I thought, but elsewhere the performance is a gripping one.
-- Gramophone [11/1985]
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