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Sviatoslav Richter: The Teldec Recordings


Release Date: 05/29/2012 
Label:  Teldec   Catalog #: 662270   
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachWolfgang Amadeus MozartFranz SchubertRobert Schumann
Performer:  Sviatoslav RichterElisabeth Leonskaja
Conductor:  Yuri Bashmet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Padua and Veneto Chamber OrchestraBorodin String Quartet
Number of Discs: 3 
Length: 3 Hours 21 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SVIATOSLAV RICHTER: The Teldec Recordings Sviatoslav Richter, Elisabeth Leonskaya (pn); Borodin Qrt; Yuri Bashmet, cond; Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto TELDEC 2564 66227-0 (3 CDs: 200:58)


BACH Piano Concertos: No. 3 in D, BWV 1054; No. 7 in g, BWV 1058. MOZART Piano Concerto No. 25. Read more class="COMPOSER12">MOZART/GRIEG Piano Sonata in C, K 545. Fantasy in c, K 475. Piano Sonata in F, K 533/494. SCHUBERT String Quartet No. 14, “Death and the Maiden.” SCHUMANN Piano Quintet


Someone once asked me who—if I had to pick just one pianist from the entire 20th century—I thought deserved to be at the top of the list of all those exalted pianists. Horowitz? Rubinstein? Gould (a personal favorite)? Yes. Based on their legacies of concerts and recordings there is no doubt that they all belong up there. But—and these kinds of questions always get me!—if I had to pick just one, based on reputation, on musicality, on breadth of repertoire, on the kind of repertoire, I concluded that no pianist deserved that top spot more than did Sviatoslav Richter. The lovely aspect of the current recording is that it highlights the pianist in his role as collaborator—and Richter was as fine a chamber musician as a solo pianist.


The first disc features concerto performances, and not ones of the grand Romantic concertos of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Grieg, or Brahms that Richter also played throughout his career, but of the (slightly) more intimate concertos of the 18th century—those of Bach and Mozart. The two Bach works were composed as solo violin concertos, but Bach transcribed them himself for the new medium of keyboard concertos shortly thereafter. Richter plays the works as though they were truly piano concertos, and he plays them as did many artists who grew up with Bach at that time, slightly heavy and slightly slower than most pianists of today. Were it not for his inherent musicality, his sense of articulation, his understanding and use of momentum, these performances would be less than ideal. They do not show him at his best—but most pianists would kill to play at Richter’s worst. And this is not bad playing—certainly not his worst. The interpretations are merely dated. The Mozart, however, is far more interesting. The C-Major Concerto is certainly one of Mozart’s big-boned concertos and Richter takes full advantage of that fact. He is able to maintain crisp and clear articulation through all of the rapid scale passages, the arpeggios, the trills and other filigree; his lyrical playing is tender and his accents are semi-forceful, yet it is all in keeping within the nature of the concerto itself. It does not sound like a 19th-century concerto in his hands.


This leads us to the odd second disc: Richter as collaborator in two-piano music. The repertoire of choice? Why, the Mozart piano sonatas and fantasy with added accompaniments by Edvard Grieg. And if one ever wondered what Mozart might have sounded like as a 19th-century composer, then this disc should surely give a clue. This is bulked-up Mozart, yet it is so well conceived both musically and pianistically that these two titans of the keyboard just eat it up. The highlight of the disc for me is the C-Minor Fantasy, which lasts almost 15 minutes in this performance. It begins with an ominous tremolando in the bass, and one is always aware that something special is about to happen. The two make the most of the lyrical sections, easily handle all of the more virtuosic ones, and bring the whole piece to a grandiose and almost majestic conclusion. It is obvious, by both Richter’s and Leonskaya’s performances here, that they not only respect this music, they love it! And in these performances, you should too.


The final disc features the Borodin String Quartet. It was one of the finest ensembles of its time, as its performance of the Schubert “Death and the Maiden” Quartet—minus Richter here—surely proves. The reading is passionate, rhythmic, energetic, and tender when called for. Once again the articulation is not as crisp as some might want, though the readings are both musical and moving when they are at their best. And their best is phenomenal. Richter joins the group in the Schumann Piano Quintet. Considering this is a live performance, it is especially spectacular—minor moments of intonation issues and missed notes do little to mar the overall effect of this wonderful reading. The players bring a sense of life to each and every moment; the fugue at the end of the Finale is bursting with energy and rounds the work off with its optimistic conclusion.


Though some may disagree with my choice of Richter as “pianist of the century,” the current discs do more to prove just how wonderful and overarching an artist he truly was. Though I would have personally liked a disc of “Richter as vocal accompanist” rather than “Richter as concerto soloist,” the performances on the disc are still noteworthy in their ways. The second and third discs are priceless. If you know Richter only as soloist, try your hand at Richter as collaborator. I can promise that with performances as good as these in some repertoire that most will not know (yes, I’m thinking of the Grieg here) you will not be disappointed. Highly recommended!


FANFARE: Scott Noriega
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Harpsichord in D major, BWV 1054 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Conductor:  Yuri Bashmet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Padua and Veneto Chamber Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1993 
Venue:  Live  Teatro Regio, Parma, Italy 
Length: 17 Minutes 44 Secs. 
2.
Concerto for Harpsichord in G minor, BWV 1058 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Conductor:  Yuri Bashmet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Padua and Veneto Chamber Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1993 
Venue:  Live  Teatro Regio, Parma, Italy 
Length: 14 Minutes 47 Secs. 
3.
Concerto for Piano no 25 in C major, K 503 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Conductor:  Yuri Bashmet
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Padua and Veneto Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/03/1993 
Venue:  Live  Teatro Regio, Parma, Italy 
Length: 30 Minutes 34 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 16 in C major, K 545 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Elisabeth Leonskaja (Piano), Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 14 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Notes: This performance includes a freely added accompaniment for a second piano written by Edvard Grieg.  
5.
Fantasy for Piano in C minor, K 475 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano), Elisabeth Leonskaja (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Notes: This performance includes a freely added accompaniment for a second piano written by Edvard Grieg.  
6.
Sonata for Piano no 15 in F major, K 533 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Elisabeth Leonskaja (Piano), Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 14 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: This performance includes a freely added accompaniment for a second piano written by Edvard Grieg.  
7.
Quartet for Strings no 14 in D minor, D 810 "Death and the Maiden" by Franz Schubert
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borodin String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in E flat major, Op. 44 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Sviatoslav Richter (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Borodin String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 

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