Friday, November 16, 2012

Sviatoslav Richter

Sviatoslav Richter
12" x 12"
oil on masonite, 2012
#2 in the 100 Greatest Recordings Ever series is the Piano Quintet in F-minor by composer César Franck as performed by pianist Sviatoslav Richter together with the Bolshoi String Quartet. For many years I lamented not being able to find this recording anywhere. A good friend of mine had this wonderful record and it became my number 1 in the Top 100 of 1985. For the longest time I thought of this as the best piece of music ever. I lost contact with that friend and the record at the same time. I hadn't seen the record in 20 years until, just a few weeks ago, it was right there, in a second hand curiosity store in downtown Fort Myers. I had filled one of the major gaps in my record collection. And it was not the only record of Sviatoslav Richter, there were three all from a series dedicated to him. Besides the Piano Quintet, there was Rachmaniov's Pianoconcert No. 2, as well as the Concerto No. 5 by Camille Saint-Saëns. I bought all three of them. I had never payed a whole of attention to individual performers or certain directors or orchestras (besides one or two opera singers) but this has now changed: I am officially a fan of Sviatoslav Richter. The newest edition may feature all three of the newly purchased Richter record and the Concerto No. 5 is already a certainty. Russian born Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter (1915-1997) is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century and I now know why. For the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) it is the first ever appearance in the 30 years of the Top 100.

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