WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 2 in D minor Op. 14; Piano Sonata No. 6 in A minor Op. 82; Piano Sonata No. 9 in C Op. 103
PERFORMER: Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: PR 250 015 ADD
Sviatoslav Richter has been associated with the music of Prokofiev since he gave the public premiere of the Sixth Sonata while a student. His live recording of the Eighth Sonata, reissued recently on DG Dokumente, is regarded as a classic, and these three previously unreleased performances, taken from broadcasts by Czech Radio, are worthy to be put alongside it.
Richter’s authority is apparent from the opening bars of each of these works, which include the best of Prokofiev’s early sonatas and two of his greatest. The music has a natural, unforced flow, while control of its characteristic quick-change rhythms and dynamics is both masterful and subtle. Richter can propel the notes with driving force where necessary, but without a trace of monotony. He employs a marvellously wide range of tonal colouring, conjuring an almost cinematic sense of fantasy in the lyrical passages, and demonstrating that these sonatas, like Beethoven’s, reflect a whole world of feeling and experience.
The recordings, on the Praga label (distributed by Harmonia Mundi), were taken from recitals in Prague in 1956, 1962 and 1963. They are a little harsh and prone to distortion in the louder passages, but do nothing to mask the clarity and real stature of the playing. David Michaels