WORKS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat; Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor; 6 in A minor
PERFORMER: Sviatoslav Richter (piano); Czech PO/Karel AncŠerl
CATALOGUE NO: PR 256002 ADD mono/stereo
These Czech Radio recordings come from public concerts given in the Fifties and Sixties. The Liszt concerto is in tolerably good mono sound, with Richter in commanding form through out. The wide vibrato of the Czech Philharmonic’s clarinets and trombones, however, is an acquired taste.
Of more immediate interest, perhaps, are the two Prokofiev sonatas. Richter is terrific in No. 2, never losing sight of the music’s shape, and producing playing of astounding technical mastery. He takes the whirlwind finale at breakneck speed, winding up the tension in the long central development by hammering out the isolated note C sharp which runs intermittently throughout the section, yet managing somehow to hold something in reserve for the eventual resolution on to the home note of D at the of the reprise.
Richter gave the premiere of the Sixth Sonata back in 1942, when he was still a conservatoire student, and it was one of the many Prokofiev works which he played with unassailable authority. This is one of the composer’s biggest and most powerful piano pieces, and one which reflects the grim events of the time when it was written. Unfortunately, this recording suffers from a fair amount of distortion, and those wanting a clearer impression of Richter’s magisterial interpretation might do better to turn to the version he made nearly 30 years later for Philips. Misha Donat