Monday, 12 March 2018

Sviatoslav Richter frustrates in Schubert

Sviatoslav Richter was no “legend”; he was a real person, and I once had a ticket to hear him at a concert near me. Unfortunately, when the great day came, I found I had mistakenly thrown away the ticket, so I never heard him live. But he was a very great and very famous pianist, with a special love for the music of Franz Schubert.

I settled down to listen to Richter in 1979 in Tokyo playing Schubert piano sonatas; B major D 575, F minor D 625, A major D 664, and A minor D 784. The pianism was wonderful. The audience was ecstatic (some applause was maintained). Three of the sonatas have slow movements marked “andante”, but Richter's concept of andante in Tokyo was more akin to molto adagio. Richter being Richter, his tempi were never based on a desire for affect, nor to please the crowd. And Richter being Richter with his superb ability to concentrate, the andantes never sagged. However, the three andantes were all so slow they often nearly stopped, and I just could not take it any more. Click on the following movements.

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