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Pianist of the Century (Box)
Robert Schumann, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sergey Prokofiev
Pianist of the Century (Box)
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
 
Easily one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Sviatoslav Richter recorded 9 albums for Detusche Grammophon between 1956 and 1962. All 9 of the solo and concerto LP-recordings are now available together, and at a...  more »

      
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Album Description
Easily one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, Sviatoslav Richter recorded 9 albums for Detusche Grammophon between 1956 and 1962. All 9 of the solo and concerto LP-recordings are now available together, and at a budget price for the first time. A brilliant performer as well as an enigmatic personality, Richter dominated the classical music scene for decades and gave landmark performances in almost every style from Bach to 20th century works. Beautifully packaged, the albums are presented in their original couplings with the original LP artwork on individual CD sleeves. Special budget price! Many of these albums have never been available at budget-price before.
 

CD Reviews

A prize indeed -- Richter in full command
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/09/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"DG only caught Richter on disc for six years (1956-62), but what years they were. Of the nine discs he made, several are among his greatest concerto recordings (the Schumann, Rachmaninov Second, Prokofiev Fifth), with the solo music scarcely at a lower level. Issuing all his LPs in their original order is an idea the company used with Martha Argerich previously. It's not really much of an advantage, though, and despite the reduced price, anyone interested in Richter will already own the bulk of this collection, little of which has been out of print or hard to find on the used market.

Here's the complete contents:

Bach, J S:
Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 1 in C major, BWV846
Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 4 in C sharp minor, BWV849
Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 5 in D major, BWV850
Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 6 in D minor, BWV851
Prelude & Fugue Book 1 No. 8 in E flat minor, BWV853

Beethoven:
Rondo for Piano and Orchestra in B flat major, Wo06
Wiener Symphoniker, Kurt Sanderling

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37
Wiener Symphoniker, Kurt Sanderling

Chopin:
Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47

Polonaise No. 7 in A flat major, Op. 61 'Polonaise-fantaisie'

Étude Op. 10 No. 1 in C major
Étude Op. 10 No. 12 in C minor `Revolutionary'
Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52

Debussy:
Préludes - Book 1: No. 2, Voiles
Préludes - Book 1: No. 3, Le vent dans la plaine
Préludes - Book 1: No. 5, Les collines d'Anacapri

Estampes (3) (Complete)

Haydn:
Piano Sonata No. 32 in G minor, Hob.XVI:44

Mozart:
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466
Warsaw (National) Philharmonic Orchestra, Witold Rowicki

Prokofiev:
Piano Concerto No. 5 in G major, Op. 55
Warsaw (National) Philharmonic Orchestra, Witold Rowicki

Piano Sonata No. 8 in B flat major, Op. 84

Visions fugitives, Op. 22, No. 3
Visions fugitives, Op. 22, No. 6
Visions fugitives, Op. 22, No. 9

Rachmaninov:
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, Witold Rowicki

Prelude Op. 32 No. 1 in C major
Prelude Op. 32 No. 2 in B flat minor
Prelude Op. 23 No. 2 in B flat major
Prelude Op. 23 No. 4 in D major
Prelude Op. 23 No. 5 in G minor
Prelude Op. 23 No. 7 in C minor
Prelude Op. 32 No. 12 in G sharp minor

Schubert:
Allegretto in C minor, D915
Ländler in A major (from 17 Ländler, D366)

Schumann:
March in G minor, Op. 76, No. 2

Waldszenen (Forest Scenes) Op. 82

Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 (selection)

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Witold Rowicki

Introduction & Allegro appassionato in G major, Op. 92
Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Stanislaw Wislocki

Novelette in F major, Op. 21 No. 1

Toccata in C major, Op. 7

Abegg Variations, Op. 1

Scriabin:
Piano Sonata No. 5 in F sharp major, Op. 53

Tchaikovsky:
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23
Wiener Symphoniker, Herbert von Karajan

You will know from your own buying which of these recordings are missing. EMI has a similar box set in their "Icons" series that contains recordings which qualify as being a bit rare, given that EMI is quick with the deletion pen. I believe that there are alternate versions of every piece here, since Richter's discography of live concerts is vast. For me and millions of fans, DG isn't exaggerating to call Richter the pianist of the century -- the latter half, at least -- and so his every note was captured by someone with a tape recorder.

These "private" recordings, as well as the official ones from Melodiya, usually can't compete with DG's sound, which is why I point to the concertos in particular. Critics have argued against the Tchaikovsky and the Mozart D minor for various reasons; the others are incontrovertibly great. Not everyone appreciates Richter's Bach and Chopin, either, but everything else in the solo recitals exhibits is overwhelming musical command.
"
One of many "pianists of the century"
jsa | San Diego, CA United States | 09/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"At the time these recordings were made for DGG Sviatoslav Richter was just emerging from his Soviet cocoon, having previously been isolated, for the most part, from western culture & influence. While Richter's art matured as he was exposed to musicians & musical ideas outside the iron curtain, his middle period, which these recordings capture, reflect an undiluted artistic personality that was highly creative, but also unorthodox if not sometimes wayward.

Let's start with the great stuff here: poetic Bach, a gem-like Haydn sonata, mesmerizing Debussy estampes & preludes, Richter's classic recording of Rachmaninoff's second concerto & six preludes, as well as definitive recordings of Prokofiev's fifth concerto & eighth sonata. Richter's stupendous traversal of Scriabin's fifth sonata, taken from a live recital, is of course also here. Richter's complete grasp of this material & his technical mastery are overwhelming & it's not surprising that several of these recordings received awards including the Grand Prix du Disque, Edison & Deutscher Schall Platten Preis.

Richter's Chopin illustrates the occasionally manic aspect of the great pianist's playing, especially the two ballades included here which both suffer from openings that are ultra-slow. While Richter was seeking something poetic, the pace is simply inconsistent with the overall architecture of these pieces. That being said, this same slow treatment works brilliantly in the opening measures of Debussy's Pagodes. Once you hear it, you'll be convinced that there is no other way to play it as Richter casts a magical spell that has never been equalled.

The polonaise-fantasy is also somewhat inconsistent with excessive rubato which, to my way of thinking, does not work very well. For a stunning polonaise-fantasy one must turn to Horowitz, who truly owned this piece. Likewise, one hearing of Claudio Arrau's distinguished Abegg Variations demonstrates that not everything Richter touched turned to gold. Here Richter, as was often the case with his playing at the time, starts out very slowly & then is almost too fast, rattling off the variations like a series of technical exercises, whereas Arrau's approach, no less of a technical tour-de-force, is far more colorful & musically oriented. There are no reservations whatsover about Richter's Chopin etudes which are impressive indeed.

Richter's treatment of Mozart's 20th piano concerto is completely unconvincing - at this point in his career he seemed not to understand the Mozart idiom at all. The awkward-sounding cadenza he plays is unfamiliar as are some of the ornamentations. The Schumann concerto is executed very smoothly, but seems almost glib; however, the op. 12 Fantasiestucke are very lovely. In fact, the solo Schumann material from the first LP Richter made for DGG in 1956, is all outstanding.

The other concerto recordings are also, to be honest, a mixed bag. To call the Tchaikovsky concerto with Karajan sluggish would be an understatement, however, this was a result of bad chemistry between soloist & conductor. To quote the liner notes: "Karajan exercised a curious blend of interference and negligence which riled Richter for decades to come." The Beethoven C minor concerto with Sanderling fares somewhat better, but it still lacks the conviction & authority of, for example, Fleisher/Szell or Arrau/Gallierra.

I love the fact that these cd's replicate the cover art & programs of each LP as they were originally released, so prepare yourself for a jolt when Richter launches into Rachmaninoff's massive op. 32, no 1 prelude, the first of six preludes which follow the second concerto. This is incredible Rachmaninoff -- Richter absolutely dominates each prelude in an unrivalled display of technical authority & poetry.

While not every performance is the best that Richter ultimately had to offer, overall this is an essential collection from one of the great pianists of the 20th century."
Complete Richter DGG with nostalgic cover art
Malverns | Europe | 06/25/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The box include very nice reproductions of original LP covers in mini format. All fantastic DGG recordings - Schumann, Rachmaninov, memorable recitals Haydn/Chopin/Debussy/Prokofiev/Scriabin/Bach/Schubert etc are included and this set is essential for any new Richter fanatic - here company is really offering value for money. I really appreciate first time cd combination of Prokofiev 5th concerto and Mozart 20th concerto - fantastic, imaginative combination of two great works and original disarming putto cover. There are no weak links in this box if you only could take Richter/Karajan battle of the spirits in Tchaikovsky concerto as a curiosity."