SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas No. 23 “Appassionata,” No. 17 “The Tempest” and No. 18 – Svjatoslav Richter, piano – Praga Digitals
SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas Nos. 17 and 16 – Svjatoslav Richter, p. – Praga Digitals

More limited edition Svjatoslav Richter Beethoven and Schubert in superlative hi-res mono sound.

Published on August 27, 2013

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas No. 23 “Appassionata,” No. 17 “The Tempest” and No. 18 – Svjatoslav Richter, piano – Praga Digitals </br> 

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas Nos. 17 and 16 – Svjatoslav Richter, p. – Praga Digitals

BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas No. 23Appassionata,” No. 17 “The Tempest” and No. 18 – Svjatoslav Richter, piano – Praga Digitals Reminiscenses SACD PRD/DSD 350 066, 69:21 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] (4/12/13) *****:

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas Nos. 17 and 16 – Svjatoslav Richter, p. – Praga Digitals Reminiscenses SACD PRD/DSD 350 067, 75:20 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] (4/12/13) *****:

Both of these recordings are limited edition reissues previously on the Praga label. They are not stereo as the label states, but rather “Bi-channel,” also as the label states. Based on the dates of these analogue recordings as listed in the booklet, it would seem these are mono. However, the sound is superlative in any case, clear with plenty of hall ambience.

Russian pianist Svjatoslav Richter was something of a phenomenon. If you don’t know Richter, you should get to know his interpretations. His discography is large and complex, as he allowed some of his live concerts to be recorded and he recorded in the studio, so that there are many duplications. His “live” recordings have appeared on a variety of labels and with few exceptions have been well-recorded or, at least, in acceptable sound.

The interpretations may not be to some listeners’ liking, particularly if they are more familiar with other pianists’ performances. The Beethoven SACD is excitable, with high drama. He keeps the listener on the edge of his or her seat.

His technique was amazing, playing at unheard of speeds when called for and poetically slow and hypnotizing at appropriate moments in the music. His vision of the music is completely convincing and always true to the spirit of what the composer had in mind.

All of the previous paragraph is also true of the Schubert. In neither case does Richter provide heavy Germanic interpretations, but rather virtuoso Russian readings. He recorded a lot of Beethoven and Schubert, but not all of the sonatas. He also touched on some of the other piano works. Richter chose not to perform certain war-horse pieces, because he did not want comparisons made with other star pianists. So there is no Emperor Concerto, for example.

I cannot recommend these highly enough. The booklet is in English and French, briefly covering the music and Richter’s biography. Grab these while they are still available.

—Zan Furtwangler




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