Sviatoslav Richter (1915–1997), one of the greatest pianists of all time, breaks his lifelong silence and allows himself to be interviewed for this autobiographical fi lm. We see his life on an epic scale as he evokes his wild childhood, his encounters with the great names in the musical world, his debuts and his activities as a concert artist in the Soviet Union, a country tortured by troubles, war and terror. By turns acerbic, captivating, lucid, always unexpected, he reveals himself here with disarming candour, full of humour. Previously unseen archive footage and a wealth of performance extracts complete this portrait of an artist who refused to conform, one of the giants of the 20th century.
Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: PCM Stereo
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Languages: English, German, French, Russian, Japanese
Running time: 154 mins
No. of DVDs: 2
Thanks to Idéale Audience, Bruno Monsaingeon’s fascinating 1998 documentary film Richter the Enigma finally appears on DVD formatted for Region One playback. Sviatoslav Richter may have been depressed and laconic in his last years, yet he relates events from his life to the camera with disarming frankness and sly humor, whether disparaging his remarkable memory for names, showing an understated yet clear contempt for political intrigues, discussing the challenges of accompanying Fischer-Dieskau, or giving a vividly succinct portrait of his pianistic colleague and rival Maria Yudina.
Still, you sense that Richter preferred to let his music-making speak for itself, and more than 50 performance excerpts reveal the intensity, concentration, and commitment he brought to every note he played. This applies both to the younger, febrile Richter we see tearing up the finale of Prokofiev’s Fifth Concerto and the C-sharp minor Chopin Etude Op. 10 No. 4 and to his older, more austere counterpart in 1986, playing from score and illuminated by a single lamp.
In addition to a wealth of archival footage and even an extract from a feature film in which Richter stars as Liszt, Monsaingeon fills in gaps with skillfully deployed still photographs and home movies that enhance and contextualize Richter’s narrative. In fact, the only awkward moment (apart from Richter’s much discussed last line “I do not like myself”) is a clip of Glenn Gould for which Monsaingeon dubs in the missing voice track. Yet the pacing and sensitive editing has a natural and gripping flow that makes the film seem far shorter than its nearly three-hour playing time across two well-indexed DVDs. General audiences and the pianist’s most ardent fans will find Richter the Enigma equally engrossing.
AWESOME AND SUCH FOCUSJune 12, 2013By daniel abrahams (palm bay, FL)See All My Reviews"RICHTER ONE OF THE GREATS AND ONE OF MY FAVORITES EXCELLANT BIO I EVEN HAVE A OLD MELODIA RECORD OF HIS PLAYING AFTER LISTENING I FELT HOW LUCKY WE ARE TO LIVE IN THE USA ANYONE WHO LOVES RICHTER GO OUT AND BUY THIS DVD FROM ARKIV"Report Abuse
Beautifully Human, April 14, 2013By Gary Giardina (New York, NY)See All My Reviews"I recently saw this documentary as part of the Lincoln Center series on great pianists. It is the most honest, moving, haunting and beautiful portrait of an artist that I can recall seeing. Richter's own narration - read largely from his own diaries- recounts an incredibly fascinating, harrowing and intensely felt period of development that ultimately blossoms into some of the most powerful and soulful playing I have ever heard. Though I speak not a word of Russian the excellent English subtitles provided me with a real sense of what is being spoken. I am now purchasing the DVD so that I may enjoy the experience anew and share it with others whose love of music and mystery is as great as Richter's."Report Abuse