Richter BBC

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 6

Sviatoslav Richter’s London debut at Royal Festival Hall in 1961 was broadcast by the BBC, and is included here in its entirety, along with material from 1963 and 1967 broadcasts. The pianism is extraordinary throughout. In the larger-scaled Chopin pieces Richter sectionalizes the music through outsized tempo modifications that either work (the Barcarolle’s brooding middle section) or land way off the mark (the Third Ballade). While we might prefer Richter’s later, more straightforward versions of the Fourth Scherzo, his gently poised Mazurkas are aristocratic and stylish. Richter’s Chopin Etudes have amazing power and personality. No one has played the Op. 10, No. 4 C-sharp minor Etude with such inhuman amounts of speed and control. Moreover, BBC’s sound proves far superior to a muffled transfer on Doremi. The Debussy selections, however, shimmer with remarkable, multi-leveled structural and tonal variety. The Preludes Book II, in particular, are better recorded and flow more easily than a 1968 performance on the Pyramid label. The Richter bins may be overstuffed, but this is a welcome and valuable addition to his immense live discography.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: This one

FREDERIC CHOPIN - Ballade No. 3 in A-flat Op. 47; Scherzo No. 4 in E Op. 54; 4 Mazurkas Op. 24; Barcarolle in F-sharp Op. 60; Etudes Op. 10 (excerpts)
CLAUDE DEBUSSY - 10 Preludes from Book I; L'isle Joyeuse; Preludes Book II (complete); Preludes Book I No. 9; Cloches a travers les feuilles
SERGEI PROKOFIEV - Dance Op. 32, No. 1

  • Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
  • BBC - 4021-2
  • CD

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