Saturday, June 8, 2013

Sviatoslav Richter in the 1950s (vol. 2)

Richter's Schumann has long been noted as one of his best composers. Unfortunately we have to put up with some distortion in the opening numbers. But fortunately, the sound clears up considerably for the Humoreske, the only live performance of this work so far published. Richter identifies completely with the unique atmosphere of this stream-of-consciousness music, in which ideas sometimes appear by simply pushing other music aside. As fine as his studio recording of this piece is, the live performance is even more exciting. Richter is also famous for his Scriabin playing — as was Rachmaninov. In the Second and Sixth Sonatas, and the group of Preludes fom Op. 11, we again hear the pianist's outstanfing color and virtuosity. How fascinating is to hear Richter's famous performance of Pictures at an Exhibition from five years before the glorious 1958 Sofia recital. As these discs are issued, that recording is regrettably out of print, but no doubt it will reappear before too long. In my opinion, the Sofia version is the Richter Pictures to have, and one of the greatest piano performances of any music recorded. It's also better that this 1953 version. But the younger Richter takes his chance here as well, perhaps bringing them off with a bit more accuracy in this similar great performance, on which — despite the existence of the 1958 version — was simply to great to leave to oblivion.
Richter made studio recordings of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto with three conductors : Ančerl, Mravinky, and Karajan. The last version is certainly the poorest, bogged down by the heavy-handed conducting. Either of the earlier versions would probably serve as a fine representation of Richter's way with this music, although, if pressed, I'd probably pick the Mravinsky. But here we have Richter's only live recording of the Concerto so far discovered. The orchestra causes us a few painful moments, but they are well compensated for by the added excitement of Richter's playing in front of the audience. He certainly never dashed through the finale with such speed and dazzling accuracy in the recording studio.
Leslie Gerber, © 1996, from the booklet

Sviatoslav Richter
In the 1950s
(vol. 2)

Tracks

Cd. 1

Robert Schuman
(1810-1856)

1 Variations on A-B-E-G-G, Op. 1  8:00

Fantasiestücke
(excerpts)
2 II. Aufschwung, in F minor (Sehr rasch) 2:53
3 III. Warum ?, in D-flat major (Langsam und zart) 2:59
4 VII. Traumes Wirren (Nicht schnell)  2:22

5 Humoreske in B-flat, Op. 20  27:19
[I. "Einfach" (B-flat-major) - "Sehr rasch und leicht" (B-flat major) ; – "Noch rascher" (G minor) ; – "Erstes Tempo" Wie im Anfang (B-flat major)
II. "Hastig" (G minor, 2/4) - "Nach und nach immer lebhafter und stärker" (D minor) ;     – "Wie vorher" Adagio
III. "Einfach und zart" (G minor) - "Intermezzo" (B-flat major, 2/4)
IV. "Innig" (B-flat major) - "Schneller" (Tempo I)
V. "Sehr lebhaft" (G-minor/B-flat major, 2/4) ; – "Immer lebhafter" (Stretto)
VI.  "Mit einigem Pomp" (C minor)
VII. "Zum Beschluss" (B-flat major) Allegro]

Alexander Scriabin
(1872-1915)

6 Piano Sonata n° 2 in G-sharp minor, Op. 19  11:20
7 12 Preludes from Op. 11  16:58
(excerpts)

*

Cd. 2

Alexander Scriabin
(1872-1915)

1 Piano Sonata n° 6, Op. 62  11:42

Modest Mussorgsky
(1839-1881) 

Pictures at an Exhibition
2 Promenade. Allegro giusto, nel modo russico,
senza allegrezza, ma poso sostenuto  0:58
3 No. 1 "Gnomus". Sempre vivo  2:17
4 Promenade. Moderato comodo assai
e con delicatezza  0:41
5 II. "Il vecchio castello". Andantino molto cantabile
e con dolore  4:21
6 Promenade. Moderato non tanto, pesamente  0:19
7 III. "Les Tuileries". Allegretto non troppo, capriccioso  0:58
8 IV. "Bydło". Sempre moderato, pesante  2:09
9 Promenade. Tranquillo  0:26
10 V. Ballet des poussins dans leur coque.
Scherzino-vivo, leggiero-trio 1:17
11 VI. "Samuel" Goldenberg und "Schmuÿle".
Andante grave, energico andantino  1:35
12 Promenade. Allegro giusto, nel modo russico,
poco sostenuto  0:57
13 VII. Limoges, le marché". Allegro vivo, sempre scherzando  1:21
14 VIII. "Catacombæ" (Sepulcrum romanum)  1:51
15 Con mortuis in lingua mortua  2:06
16 Baba Yaga. La Cabane sur des pattes de poule.
Allegro con brio, feroce - Andante mosso - Allegro molto  2:58
17 La Grande Porte de Kiev.
Allegro alla breve - Maestoto. Con grandezza
Andante non troppo, con lamento  4:49

Piotr Il'ich Tchaikovsky
(1840-1893)

Piano Concerto n° 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23
18 I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso  19:49
19 II. Andante semplice  6:17
20 Allegro con fuoco  6:50

*

Sviatoslav Richter - p
U.S.S.R. State Symphony Orchestra/Nathan Rachlin

Recorded in Moscow, Russia ; June 1955 [Cd. 1] ; October 1952 [Cd. 2, # 1-17] ; & 1957 [Cd. 2, # 18-20]

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