Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Schubert, Liszt, Richter|
Piano Sonata / Impromptu / Polonaise
Magesterial reading of Schubert's greatest sonata
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Schubert's B-flat sonata is a long, moving, profound work of art. Glenn Gould, who disliked Schubert's music owing to the "repetitive structures," spoke of attending a Richter recital in Moscow during the 1950s and, having initially dreaded the thought of sitting through the B-flat sonata, found himself utterly transfixed. He said that Richter's playing was so powerful in its immediacy that it came across almost as improvisation. Richter's tempo in the first movement (molto moderato) is daringly slow, and he plays the entire repeat (which was seldom done in those days). Yet the beauty of the music and the playing transcend time and make me recall Eliot's line: "the still point of the turning world." If you play the piano, you know how difficult it is to produce a fully-realized performance of this piece. We're lucky to have Schubert's music, and lucky to be able to hear Richter's exploration of it."
A unique musical experience
hjonkers | The Netherlands | 02/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are a few discs in my collection that I seldom listen. Not because they don't appeal to me: rather because I find them too special and great for ordinary listening. This is one of them. If I would have to give one good reason why Sviatoslav Richter is my favourite pianist, and why the D960 is my favourite Schubert sonata, I would refer to this particular recording of the sonata. Or, more specifically, its first movement. I will focus on the D960 alone here: the two filler pieces are interesting but the sonata is the real thing. This Prague version is my favourite, but it's hard to get so you might look at his recordings on the Regis label. The Molto Moderato opening has always been notorious for its length (with the repeat observed, it takes twenty minutes), but Richter adds another five minutes. And this makes it all the more special. I've seldom heard someone play so few notes at a piano for so long, and with this great effect! It takes an enormous amount of concentration and dedication for a pianist to keep such a long piece on track, but Richter could afford it. His ultimately slow account turns the first movement and the whole sonata in fact, into something almost larger-than-life: call it a metaphysical experience at the piano. Glenn Gould once said that he had never liked Schubert because of his endless repeats, which bored him immensely. But when he heard Richter play this movement slower than anyone else, suddenly he didn't care about the repeats anymore, and listened with amazement to Richter's playing. It's very interesting to see how much even someone who hated Schubert (unjustly, of course) liked this performance. And it really is something special. I've had several evenings on which I just put up this cd, and then dived into this seemingly endless journey. It makes even more obvious than before how much of a farewell this piece must have been for Schubert. Its tragic undertone is always present, although the main key of the work is B flat major. And the slow, but intensely concentrated take on the melodies wrings out everything that's inside this work. Sometimes I get the idea the piece isn't just about Schubert but also about Richter himself: a sometimes lonely human who wants to communicate the ultimate kind of music. Richter does so here, certainly. Not only can he sustain the slow tempo; he also puts a sublime kind of intensity in every note. Hearing it is as if you witness time being stopped. It's pure music we hear. The bell-like chords of the beginning. And those silences he puts in after the bass trills... Probably the most riveting scene in the work appears after about a minute, when the second theme enters. Imagine this titanic pianist, one of the most impressive appearances on the concert venue, playing music so tenderly... Words fail me. When the thematic development continues, Schubert has put in some themes that could sound trivial if played too slowly (from m.48 on). Nothing of that, however: Richter's wonderful touch does right to every little detail and it's simply a delight to hear. But not only is Richter sublimely serene at times, he's still the pianistic titan too. At the very end of the exposition, right before the repeat-sign, his thunder-like sound is almost terrifying to hear. Equally impressive is the silence afterwards, to return to the pp first theme. Then, as he continues to the development (after 14 minutes!), the music gets to its dramatic summit, especially at this slow tempo. The recap concludes this royal movement, with the closing bars performed by Richter as in a dream. Goodbye too all, it seems to say, and what rests then? After the eternal travel, Schubert gets to the prayer-like second movement, which feels like a surrendering to his awaiting fate. First he's struggling a bit, with the first theme in minor key; then follows a somewhat heroic middle part, something like Schubert's Schwanengesang, and finally it gets into a state of total peace at the end, in the C# major key. And again, Richter does TOTAL right to the piece. When it came to pure musicality he was unbeatable, if you ask me. Really every kind of detail, accent, melodic line and anything else is performed to its limit. When the movement closes, a total surrendering has come over the listener. But Schubert didn't give up! How immensely enjoyable it is, after 35 minutes of tragedy, to be interrupted by a capricious Scherzo! I haven't heard it being played as joyfully (and fast!) as here with Richter, and the feeling of release comes out uniquely. It's a light-fast run over the keys that makes the almost surreal impression of some new hope. And finally there are the first chords of the final: a majestic and decisive final to everything. The first theme starts out graciously, and continues for a while in some small variations. Richter's approach is quite definitive for me: it is greatly accentuated and contains exactly the right spirit. Afterwards, he flows through the second theme, where the right hand does the most work. It appears that Schubert was reminded of his fate once again then: he put in a horror-like fortissimo scene. And it's played exactly that way by Richter: severe, mighty and uncompromising. And then he softens down again, towards the main theme. After a powerful development and a recapitulation, a Beethovenian conclusion follows, in Presto. It's a mighty strong and even glorious closure that finishes the composer's career, in fact. Richter performs it again in a most royal way, and his last `wham' on the three B flat's is unforgettable. It's truly a Hammerklavier-like closure for all the efforts that he's done in the forty-five minutes before. A perfect finish to an almost perfect performance of a sonata that will never sound the same again."
A wonderful experience !
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 12/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The mesmerizing approach given by the sublime maestro Sviatoslav Richter is unique in the story of the disc .
I love this Sonata D. 960 . Somehow it represents a musical testament of this poet and beloved musician and to my mind one of the three greatest Piano Sonatas ever composed .
The astonishing musical ideas contained go far beyond the XIX Century and have served as inspiration to composers so distant in spirit as Arnold Schoenberg and obviously Gustav Mahler.
Richter in this particular recording makes of this first movement meticulously played and extremely slow tempo to a limit in which literally the time seemed to float . A dimension level that I never had felt with any other performer.
Despite Richter loved to play romantic composers , he never played under this mood . Behind the delicacy of his playing there was a careful sense of the expression and the meaning of every phrase .
The artist must be an invisible bridge between the score and the audience and he must vanish . These words come from Richter and talk by themselves . This statement reveals besides , the absence of total involvement with the romantic expression because somehow the pianist would undraw the spirit and intention of the work .
The reading of this Sonata must be considered as a mythical journey ; the cosmic heights reached in the First and Second Movements reveal to Schubert in one of his highest peaks .
This version is absolutely unbeatable . Richter recorded it again in Aldeborough in 1964 but the final result was never the same .
Acquire this historical performance before it becomes a status and hard to find issue among the conosseurs .
Sviatoslav Richter : In memoriam (March 20 1915 - August 1 1997)"