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Mozart: Piano Sonata No. 5, K. 283 / Rachmaninov: Etudes-tableaux / Tchaikovsky: The Seasons / Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 9 / Prokofiev: Piano Sonata No. 4

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Audio CD, November 20, 2001
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Editorial Reviews


By 1966 Richter was already an Aldeburgh veteran, and in this recital he sounds entirely at his ease. Is that a twinkle in his eye in the first movement of his Mozart sonata, a ghost of a smile even? More objectively, this is as finely chiselled an account as you could hope to hear, and Richter's phrasing is wonderfully subtle (hear the wonderful sloping edges in the development section of the first movement, the easygoing singing quality in the slow movement and the controlled energy in the finale, which achieves unhurried clarity within a genuine presto). A few scattered coughs and a very few minor fluffs remind of us the live occasion and make the elevated quality of the playing all the more thrilling.Richter places each of the four movements from Tchaikovsky's The Seasons in its own timbral and expressive world, with a fabulous array of beguiling sonorities, despite the dryish acoustic. The two Rachmaninov Etudes-tableaux pass by as if in a whirlwind of inspiration; and Richter brings to Scriabin's 'Black Mass' Sonata an authentically hallucinatory, hanging-in-the-air quality that seems to come straight from another world. Prokofiev's Fourth Sonata was always a favourite of Richter's, and he plays it with crusading fervour, brandishing a hard fist in fortissimo, but complementing this with abundant fantasy and colour. In the last pages he goes for broke, in a way that surely betokens his satisfaction with the recital as a whole.The recorded sound is nothing if not well focused. In the Prokofiev, that makes for some uncompromising harshness, but elsewhere it enables us to savour every tiniest nuance of Richter's art. Chris de Souza's booklet essay is informative but trots out the old legend of Richter having written a book about Prokofiev – a fascinating chapter, yes, but never a book. David Fanning -- From International Record Review - subscribe now

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I. Allegro
  2. II. Andante
  3. III. Presto
  4. No.5: May. Starlight Night
  5. No.6: June. Barcarolle
  6. No.11: November. In A Troika
  7. No.1: January. By The Hearth
  8. No.3 in f#: Allegro Molto
  9. No.4 in b: Allegro Assai
  10. Moderato Quasi Andante - Molto Meno Vivo - Allegro - Piu Vivo - Allegro Molto - Alla Marcia - Piu Vivo - Allegro - Presto
  11. I. Allegro Molto Sostenuto
  12. II. Andante Assai
  13. III. Allegro Con Brio, Ma Non Leggiero

Product Details

  • Performer: Sviatoslav Richter
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Peter I. Tchaikovsky, Serge Rachmaninov, Alexander Scriabin, Sergei Prokofiev
  • Audio CD (November 20, 2001)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: BBC Legends
  • ASIN: B00005Q5LP
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,378 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAME on August 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Summer in Aldebrugh, and a small audience is gathered in the local church to hear Richter, not knowing that today every music lover would kill for their seats. Amazon quotes a review that notes how relaxed the great pianist seems, and I think it's true. Richter's Mozart could be brittle and impatient, but he plays the charming Sonata in G K. 283 with unaffected simplicity and poise. The rest of the program is Russian, from Tchaikovsky to Prokofiev, hitting every card in the Roladex in between. It goes without saying that Richter was authoritative and at times unsurpassed in this repertoire.

Russians are brought up on Scriabin and Rachmaninov as their equivalent of Liszt and Brahms, which may not be such a good trade-off, yet on the other hand a non-Russian can feel shut out of a secret language listening to the dense chromaticism, lack of sonata structure, sweeping fistfuls of notes, and ever-present moodiness that shifts between melancholy and nostalgia. Even Schumann, the most free-form of German piano composers, seems like Bach next to the Russians. Which is to say that I find it hard to warm up to Tchaikovsky's The Seasons, where every month seems lazy and cloudy, or Rachmaninov's Etudes-Tableaux, which sound like a genius told to improvise cocktail lounge music. Even so, Richter is as persuasive as anyone could be, and the eerie slither of Scriabin's "Black Mass" Sonata no. 9 is especially captivating.

It's gratifying that Prokofiev broke the mold with a new piano style marked by precision, sharp wit, intrusions of dissonant violence, and a personal ear for melody. The sonata no.
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