La Scena Musicale

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Richter : Mozart & Chopin

Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Medici Arts 3085208 (90 min)
****** $$$$

When Richter arrived at the Barbican Centre in London on March, 29 1989, he was unaware the concert was going to be filmed. He disliked video and refused to perform for the cameras unless the only lighting in the auditorium was a 40-watt light bulb. The result is a dark, grainy image of Richter masterfully performing Mozart’s Piano Sonatas No .4, 16, and 8, and Chopin’s Etudes. The darkness creates a surreal, yet intimate, concert experience on DVD. Richter and his keyboard are half illuminated by a floor lamp. His sheet music is the only object fully lit. The best part of the DVD is two clips of bonus footage from 1969. Rachmaninov’s Etude-Tableau Op. 39, No. 3 is a beautiful black and white performance of a young Richter effortlessly playing the complex passages. The second video is a performance of Chopin’s Etudes Op.10, No.4 and No.2. The video quality from both performances is much better than the 1989 footage and allows the viewer to see his true mastery of technique. Richter’s performance adds another fascinating DVD to the Classical Archive series.

- Andrew Buziak

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