S0348. MSTISLAV ROSTROPOVICH & SVIATOSLAV RICHTER: Sonata #3 in A; Sonata #4 in C (both Beethoven); Sonata #1 in e (Brahms), Live Performances, 1 March, 1950, Moscow; Sonata #1 in e (Brahms); Sonata in a (Grieg), Live Performances, 20 June, 1964, Aldeburgh. Final Copy! - 723721345556
"This one-of-a-kind release features two of the leading musicians of the twentieth century, Mstislav Rostropovich and Sviatoslav Richter in live performances of sonatas. Especially notable is the Prokofiev sonata from Moscow 1950, which was the piece's world premiere performance. Two other sonatas, by Beethoven and Brahms, are being released here for the first time. These two concerts took place in March 1950 and June 1964, when both of these remarkable twentieth century musicians were at the peak of their careers."
“Mstislav Rostropovich, the cellist and conductor was renowned not only as one of the great instrumentalists of the 20th century but also as an outspoken champion of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union during the last decades of the cold war.
As a cellist, Mr. Rostropovich played a vast repertory that included works written for him by some of the 20th century’s greatest composers. Among them were Shostakovich’s Cello Concertos; Prokofiev’s Cello Concerto, Cello Sonata and Symphony-Concerto; and Britten’s Sonata, Cello Symphony and three Suites. Perhaps because his repertory was so broad, Mr. Rostropovich was able to make his cello sing in an extraordinary range of musical accents. In the big Romantic showpieces — the Dvorák, Schumann, Saint-Säens and Elgar concertos, for example — he dazzled listeners with both his richly personalized interpretations and a majestic warmth of tone. He could be a firebrand in contemporary works, and he seemed to enjoy producing the unusual timbres that modernist composers often demanded. He played the premieres of solo works by William Walton, Georges Auric, Dmitri Kabalevsky and Nikolai Miaskovsky, as well as concertos by Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki and Lukas Foss, among others.
He also studied composition with Shostakovich, and continued to do so even after the Soviet authorities condemned both Shostakovich and Prokofiev for ‘formalist perversions and antidemocratic tendencies’. He later studied composition privately with Prokofiev, and although Mr. Rostropovich’s compositions are not well known, they include two piano concertos, a string quartet and several solo piano works.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 27 April, 2007
“There were quite a number of great pianists in the Twentieth Century. There are even great pianists in the Twenty-First Century. But Richter stands alone, the purity and passion of his devotion to music, of his unique genius, obvious in every note. This was a man who said, in all modesty, just play the notes on the page. Yet he was a man able to transmit the spiritual essence of music, a man able to leap the chasm between self and other, between aesthetics and life. What a tale he might have told were he inclined to the verbal. But he was not. His comments about his music making were most often along the lines of, ‘I played well’, or, ‘I played poorly’. Neuhaus instantly recognized him, his first true genius pupil, when Richter arrived at the Moscow Conservatory at the unusually old age of 22. ‘He makes a nearly perfect interpretation as soon as he sees a work. I have never seen any other pianist that has wider artistic horizon than him’. But I don’t imagine Richter cared one way or the other. The music was all that ever mattered.
Someone described Richter as a sort of chameleon, taking on the hues of the music he’s performing. This is apt. I remember the first time I heard him play Grieg’s Lyric Pieces. It is the sweetest, simplest, most honest and heart felt playing of this wonderful music, and this from the man I had always considered the greatest Beethoven exponent on record. It was the same with Bach’s 'Well Tempered Clavier’. And with Schubert’s sonatas: absolute truthfulness to the music. Can you imagine a chef who is a master of every cuisine?
As for the music, he makes one use words like ‘greatest’. He washes away considerations and preconceptions through the sheer power and truthfulness of his playing. It is particularly difficult talking about a Richter performance. I recall a Russian expert speaking of Richter in terms of a spiritual teacher. Yes. That is closer to the truth than anything I’ve said.”
- Russell Lichter, THE STEREO TIMES, Jan., 2005
“After Stalin’s death in 1953, the Soviet Union lifted a bit of the Iron Curtain to allow some major midcareer Russian artists to make debuts in America. Among them were the violinist David Oistrakh and the pianist Emil Gilels, both in 1955. Notably missing was the towering pianist Sviatoslav Richter, an artist of, in the best sense, demonic powers, whose performances combined stunning technique, myriad colorings and fierce integrity. Every time Gilels was lavished with praise by musicians in America, he would offer thanks, then add, ‘Wait until you hear Richter!’
…when Richter auditioned at Moscow Conservatory for the pianist Heinrich Neuhaus, who would become his most influential teacher, Neuhaus, deeply impressed, whispered to a nearby student that he thought young Richter a ‘musician of genius’.”
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Sept., 2015