part of track
Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840
-1893) created a great number of piano works. These compositions were
intended to serve specific purposes and be performed in certain environments.
Works like the First Piano Concerto were created for big concert halls to
celebrate solemn moments of Russian history and unify the national spirit.
Miniatures were usually performed at home, in a circle of friends and family.
They are a symbol of the privacy and comfort of many wealthier Russian homes and
reflect their style of life in the 19th century. Though Tchaikovsky's
piano miniatures were addressed mostly to nobles and prosperous townsfolk, his
music speaks to everyone. Intimate and sincere, with rich melodies and
simple to perform, the music gained great popularity for the composer.
This album combines Tchaikovsky piano miniatures from Op. 5,
7, 10, 19, 40, 51 and 72.
Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997), one of the greatest
pianists of the twentieth century, was born in Zhitomir, Ukraine, into a family
of musicians. His talent was recognized and encouraged from a very early
stage. The Richters soon moved from Zhitomir to Odessa, a provincial city
in Southern Ukraine. Theophil Richter, father of Sviatoslav, was a
Odessa Conservatory. At the same time and in the same city lived also
David Oistrakh and Emil Gilels. By the age of eight Richter played opera
scores by Wagner and at age nineteen he gave his first solo piano concert.
We often hear funny things about Richter. For example,
that his development as a pianist started when 22-year-old Richter first met
Heinrich Neuhaus in Moscow. In fact when Neuhaus listened to Richter's
playing he said that there was nothing he could teach him. Being already
an accomplished pianist Richter never passed the exam to enter the Moscow
Conservatory as a student. He was enrolled without examination after
Neuhaus listened to his playing. Can we imagine the same happening at our
state music schools which charge 100$ only for applying and where composers and
performers are evaluated by accountants according to form-filling instead of
personal inspiration and experience? Indeed, Neuhaus knew that real
diplomas are issued in Heaven.
Richter won the All-Union Competition in 1945 and was awarded
the Stalin Prize in 1949. Being a jury member at the First Tchaikovsky
Competition in 1958 he awarded van Cliburn one hundred points out of possible
The communist regime kept Soviet artists on a short leash and
there was a reason for that. Too often Soviet artists chose not to return.
The first time Richter was allowed to cross the border with the West was at the
end of 1960. That was his debut in the US with the Second Concerto by
Brahms conducted by Erich Leinsdorf. After that Richter played seven
recitals over ten days in Carnegie Hall. He became an extremely busy
performer. However he also became known for cancellations of his
performances at the very last minute. He tried to avoid travelling by air.
The exhausting life of a travelling concert pianist was not his cup of
Richter preferred to stay in France and Germany. The
environment around Tours in France reminded him of Zhitomir. In 1964,
Richter founded an annual festival - the "Fetes Musicales en Touraine"
at Meslay. He also established the December Nights Festival which annually
takes place at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
Richter's repertoire was vast, though the music he performed
was selected very consciously. Besides basic piano repertoire he loved to
play sonatas by Schubert and Haydn which evoked delight in his audiences.
As time passed Richter's interpretations became more and more rigid and
restrained, though each composer was always for him a special world and Richter
treated each of them very differently, naturally and easily. A natural
ability to merge different styles and epochs was probably his most impressive
talent, though most people first of all valued his unlimited abilities as a
After 1980, the only light he allowed in the concert hall was
focused on the piano and around the same time he stopped playing by heart though
his memory was always extraordinary.
Richter's last concert was in Lubeck, Germany, in March,
1995. He was eighty years old and in poor health. On the program
were three Haydn Sonatas and Variations by Beethoven. Richter died in
Moscow on August 1, 1997.
Sviatoslav Richter, piano
Nocturne in F major, Op. 10 No.1
- Valse Scherzo in A major, Op 7 4:17
- Humoresque in G major, Op 10 No.2
- Capriccioso in B flat major, op. 19, No.5
- Chanson triste, Op 40, No. 2 3:01
in A flat major, Op. 40, No.8 3:22
in F minor, Op.5 6:35
- Romance in F minor, Op 51. No.5 8:42
- Un poco di Chopin, Op. 72, No.15 3:27
- Lespiegle, Op. 72, No. 12 2:08
- Reverie, Op.19, No. 1 4:24
- Menuetto-scherzando, Op. 51, No.3
- Valse de
Salon, Op.51, No.1 5:05
- Meditation, op. 72, No.5 5:19
Total Time- 61:48
Recorded in 1983
Remastered by Nikita Razlukin
Cover painting "Dance at Bougival"
Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn