LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Oboe Concerto No. 1
PERFORMER: Sarah Francis (oboe); RPO/Vernon Handley
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55019 Reissue (1988)
This Austrian Radio recording of Richter’s last Salzburg Festival recital (26 August 1977) shows us the private, introverted artist, dealing in fragile visions and reflective emotions. The Munich critic Karl Schumann spoke in awe of ‘late summer’s ripe fruits’, of Richter on holiday from his own image, ‘the tragedian of the piano [relaxing] in small forms and Nature lyrics’, creating a dreamlike romantic salon of never-to-be forgotten mezzo shadows and muted tones.
Beethoven’s Andante favori is beauty incarnate, an incomparable performance of delicacy and lingering phrase, tightly sprung yet musing and improvisational. The Chopin waltzes are aristocratically pure and unmannered, as exquisitely and melancholically cameoed as the trio sections of the Second Scherzo – a reading of line and structure relieved of superficial glitter. Simple, direct speech and luminous, crystalline sonorities delineate Debussy’s Suite bergamasque. Here is unaffected poetry, fantastic yet formal, free of sentimentality, suffused in colour, with all the time in the world (‘Clair de lune’ is very special). Reminding magically of those old Russian love affairs with matters and graces French, Richterway with Estampes left a generation of players inspired. Others gleamed more, perhaps, but no one glowed quite like he could. Ates Orga