Sviatoslav Richter: Classical Charisma

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In a year filled with interesting centennial and bicentennial occasions, Sara Fishko still can’t shake the memory of one pianist who would have been 95 this week, Sviatoslav Richter. She offers an appreciation on this edition of The Fishko Files.

Sviatoslav Richter was one of the 20th century’s most dynamic, memorable pianists, with a rare combination of dazzling technique and deep interpretational insights. Richter’s debut in America in 1960 had been greatly anticipated (“Wait ‘til you hear Richter!” said the Soviet pianist Emil Gilels to his own fans in 1955), and New York audiences were not disappointed by five Carnegie Hall concerts that winter. But the tall, imposing Richter -– who could be as poetic as he was powerful -– didn’t play by the rules. At the height of his fame and success in the West, he withdrew from conventional concertizing, touring, and recording, and retreated to a rather monastic life in the Soviet Union and surrounding countries, playing an enormous number of concerts, featuring a wide and unusual range of repertoire. Click below to purchase some of the Richter recordings featured in this episode of The Fishko Files.

Recommended albums:

Richter Rediscovered

Sviatoslav Richter: Great Pianists of the 20th Century

Sviatoslav Richter: Great Pianists of the 20th Century vol. II

To hear more from critic Harris Goldsmith, listen to “The Critic,” an installment of The Fishko Files which originally aired March 30, 2007.