Debussy, Chopin, Prokofiev

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Debussy,Prokofiev
LABELS: BBC Legends
WORKS: Préludes, Book 1 (excerpts); L’isle joyeuse; Cloches à travers les feuilles
PERFORMER: Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4021-2 ADD mono/stereo
It’s one measure of great performing artists that in spite of all preconceptions or previous dispositions on your own part they get you onto their wavelength, at least for the duration of that particular performance, so that you listen to the music, at least to some degree, on their terms, with their ears. This was eminently true in Richter’s case. His powers of persuasion were uncanny. But it could often take him some time to hit his stride. Some of his greatest recitals began badly. The whole of the first CD here, and a part of the second, is devoted to a recital given at the Royal Festival Hall in 1961. It opens unpromisingly, with a strangely pulled about performance of Chopin’s Third Ballade, picks up considerably in the Fourth Scherzo and reaches greatness in the group of four mazurkas, the last of which is quite unforgettable. Thereafter, it’s largely vintage Richter, particularly the Debussy. Then comes a rather odd sequence of encores culled from two different recitals, including one Chopin etude which even he can’t play at the tempo he takes. Musically and technically its a mess. Comforting, somehow. But much of the playing is bewitching and the remastering is excellent. Jeremy Siepmann

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