The great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter has been a regular feature of the BBC Legends's catalogue since 1998 with twelve recordings released.
This early recital from the Royal Festival Hall in July 1961 was recorded when Richter was a rare visitor to the UK - a few days later, he played the Chopin/Debussy recital (BBCL40212) followed a week later by the Liszt Concertos (BBCL40312) as well as the Dvorak Piano concerto (to be issued).
All the works appearing in this recital have been recorded by Richter at various points during his career but the broadcast of 8th July 1961 has never been issued before and was a 'gala' event in London at the time.
Richter is a proven seller on BBC Legends and as Richter did not like recording in studio conditions, his BBC broadcasts bring out the very best of his artistry.
Franz Joseph Haydn: Keyboard Sonata No. 44 in F major, Hob.XVI:29
III. Tempo di menuet
Sergey Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor, Op. 14
I. Allegro, ma non troppo - Piu mosso - Tempo primo
II. Scherzo: Allegro marcato
IV. Vivace - Moderato - Vivace
Sergey Prokofiev: 10 Pieces, Op. 12
10 Pieces, Op. 12: No. 6. Legende
Sergey Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, Op. 22
III. Allegretto. IV. Animato. V. Molto giocoso. VI. Con eleganza. VIII. Commodo. IX. Allegretto tranquillo. XI. Con vivacita. XIV. Feroce. XV. Inquieto. XVIII. Con una dolce lentezza
Sergey Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, Op. 84
I. Andante dolce - Allegro moderato - Andante dolce, come prima - Allegro
II. Andante sognando
III. Vivace - Allegro ben marcato - Andantino - Vivace, come prima
“Sviatoslav Richter is at the top of virtually everybody's short list of great pianists, and the reasons are not hard to find. His range was engulfing, even when he took a personal and surprising dislike to the most exalted repertoire, weeding out, for example, those Beethoven sonatas he considered less than convincing. This added spice to his early status, further enlivened by his first, belated appearances in the West. On his arrival in New York and London in the '60s, anticipation pulsed at fever pitch and in the first of three London recitals, now blessedly released by BBC Legends, his unique quality was unmistakable. It is no exaggeration to say that his Haydn and Prokofiev recital was among the greatest ever heard on the South Bank. Here, Haydn's mischief is captured with a silken magic and dexterity peculiarly Richter's own, and who else could characterise so acutely the stylised oddity of Prokofiev's Visions fugitives? No one has touched Richter's way with the Second Sonata, its self-consciously prickly utterance resolved in a near-classical transparency. Everything is taken by stealth rather than storm with an unforgettably lyrical second subject, though with an unflagging impetus reserved for the Scherzo and for the finale's Tom and Jerry cartoon caperings. The underlying menace of the composer's inquieto direction in the Eighth Sonata is frighteningly caught, a dark and introspective journey that leads through the Andante's faux naïf charm to a finale of blistering strength and propulsion.”
“…Haydn's mischief is captured with a silken magic and dexterity peculiarly Richter's own, and who else could characterise so acutely the stylised oddity of Prokofiev's Visions fugitives? No performance in my experience has touched Richter's way with the Second Sonata, its self-consciously prickly utterance resolved in a near-classical transparency.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.