LABELS: BBC Legends
ALBUM TITLE: BBC Legends
WORKS: Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat, D960; schumannPapillons; Introductionand Allegro appassionato
PERFORMER: Sviatoslav Richter (piano); English CO/Benjamin Britten
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4196-2 (ADD)
If one wanted to demonstrate the greatness, the supremacy of Sviatoslav Richter as interpreter of sublime music, one may hardly do better than to play this performance of Schubert’s last piano sonata, in B flat, D960. There are other recordings of Richter playing it, including a studio recording in better sound, but none of them has the depth of this one.
Hugely leisurely in its first movement, yet always intense, and with the intensity taken even further in the slow movement; then a gossamer Scherzo, and a tumultuous finale in which the left hand’s insistent octave G is like a funeral bell, this is 45 minutes in which one of the masterworks by which all others are judged is given a performance which leaves nothing to add. There is on the same disc a marvellously flexible Schumann Papillons and the striking Introduction and Allegro appassionato, in which Britten and the English Chamber Orchestra accompany Richter ideally throughout. Michael Tanner