The quest for a good Richter performance is easy compared to the trackless path to a satisfactory Richter "recording." Vanguard finds both grails on this document of Richter's mini-recital at the Palais de Chaillot in 1961. Unpretentious Haydn, a ruminative Debussy (tone colors as carefully placed as tiles in a mosaic), and the eponymously wicked Prokofieff are all Richter strengths. The sound quality is that of a well-worn LP, i.e., loud passages carry an aura of fuzz. As Richter launches into the Prokofieff, the audience is electric with anticipation – many voices are raised in desperate shushing to prepare a silence before the frenzy. Something akin to an exorcism ensues. A great pianist at the height of his powers.
Copyright © 1998, Robert J. Sullivan