Sunday, November 12, 2023

I would never want to be caught idling for more than five minutes. That would be awful.

CD Review by Peter J. Rabinowitz

LISZT Piano Concertos: No. 1; No. 2. 1 BEETHOVEN Piano Sonatas: No. 10, op. 14/2; No. 19, op. 49/1 ; No. 20, op. 49/2 Sviatoslav Richter (pn); Kiril Kondrashin, cond; London SO1 PHILIPS 289 464 710-2, analog (70:09)

LISZT Valses oubliées: Nos. 1, 2. Études d'exécution transcendante: Nos. 5, 11. MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition. SCHUBERT Moment Musical, D 780/1. Impromptus, D 899/2, 4. Sviatoslav Richter (pn) PHILIPS 289 464 734, mono (76:30) Live: Sofia, 1958

& CHOPIN Étude, op. 10/3. RACHMANINOV Prelude, op. 32/12

While I have no complaints about the playing here (Richter at his midcareer prime), it's hard to get excited about these releases. After all, the Liszt concertos and the main items from Sofia have been regularly reissued for the past 40 years. In fact, the entire Sofia recital appeared—in somewhat more strident but more immediate and less muffled sound—only two years back as the first CD in the first Richter volume of Philips's "Great Pianists" series (23:2). And while the fleet, light-fingered accounts of these relatively slight Beethoven sonatas are rarer material, they seem ill suited to accompany the feral Liszt concertos, which were more appropriately escorted, in their most recent incarnation, by the Liszt Sonata. Certainly, Philips could have produced a more noteworthy CD by chucking the Liszt and giving us instead the other Beethoven Sonatas—No. 9 and 11—that joined Nos. 10, 19, and 20 in their original LP incarnations.

Still, younger collectors who don't have this material in their collections already—and who prefer the polish of Richter's studio Liszt concertos to the raw vitality of the live performances taped at the same time (BBC Legends BBCL 4031-2, 23:6)—can snap these up with confidence. Presentation is haphazard (the notes are minimal, and the Rachmaninov Prelude is misidentified), but, with playing of this caliber, that's hardly relevant to a decision. Peter J. Rabinowitz

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