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The Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1915–1997) was one of the greatest interpreters of the 20th century, along with his compatriots Emil Gilels, David Oistrakh and Mstislav Rostropovich. As Richard Osborne says of Richter’s playing in his booklet note, “Bravura technique matched to high intelligence and a richly developed musical imagination is a rare combination of qualities in any instrumentalist.”
Richter made his debut in the West in 1960 with Beethoven’s Piano Sonata op.2 no.3 at a recital in New York. Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata was one of the main features of Richter’s programming in the summer of 1975 in Prague, London and Aldeburgh, the latter performed one week prior to London and recorded on BBC Legends.
Richter’s live recitals catch him at his very best compared to the confines of the studio. The 1975 recital in London was considered a landmark, one of the greatest that Richter gave in this country. Richard Osborne has written in the booklet notes, “As Richter’s performance vividly attests, the ‘Hammerklavier’ is from first note to last a work of extraordinary lucidity and clear-sightedness.” The Beethoven Piano Sonata No.3 op.2 no.3 and the three Bagatelles op.126, which formed the other works played in all the 1975 concerts, attest to Richter’s great understanding of Beethoven.
This is the first time that this London recital has been issued commercially on CD in an authorised version and it is remastered here in excellent stereo.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2, No. 3
I. Allegro con brio
III. Scherzo: Allegro - Trio
IV. Allegro assai
Ludwig van Beethoven: 6 Bagatelles, Op. 126
No. 1 in G major
No. 4 in B minor
No. 6 in E flat major
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 29 in B flat major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier"
II. Scherzo: Assai vivace - Presto - Tempo I
III. Adagio sostenuto, appassionato e con molto sentimento
IV. Largo - Allegro risoluto
8th November 2012
“this CD, taken from the BBC's recording of the concert, conveys the electricity of the occasion and the power of Richter's playing more vividly than anyone might have dared hope. Richter's musical presence and the sharply focused energy of his playing course through every bar of the all-Beethoven programme”
24th November 2012
“Right from the start of the "Piano Sonata No 3 in C major", there's a great declamatory authority about his delivery...before tackling the Piano Sonata No 29 in B flat major like a mountaineer scaling an imposing range of peaks. Particularly impressive is the long third movement Adagio, like rain falling softly on the soul.”
“This is an astounding disc. It contains some of the greatest piano playing I have ever heard, and the most profound interpretation of what is, for me, Beethoven's greatest piano work, the Hammerklavier Sonata...any musical soul will be grateful for this issue of this historical recital.”
“The quietly knotty contrapuntal sequences in the first movement of the Hammerklavier boast shimmering transparency”
6th May 2013
“The ICA recital opens with a magisterial, commanding, textually aerated but often powerfully conceived performance of Op. 2 No. 3, possibly the greatest Richter gave of this work...There’s refined limpidity in the first of the Op.126 Bagatelles and corresponding fire and energy in the Fourth”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.