A classical music website by Tim Mangan
Sviatoslav Richter, piano
classical music, music videos
Maurice Ravel, piano, Richter
May 23, 2017
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Richter had a way with Ravel. I love his performance of “Jeux d’eau” (I think it was his 1960 Carnegie Hall concert). So ethereal.
In my opinion, this pianist’s “greatness” is vastly overrated. In this performance, for example, there is not nearly enough of either French elegance or Spanish flavor. The fast episodes are messy and uneven, tempo relationships don’t make much sense – the attitude often seems to be “let’s play each passage as fast as i can hit those notes” – and loud stuff is simply loud without much character in the sound.
I agree, it’s not perfect, but it is a live recording. But I like his rhythmic energy and articulation and voicing quite a lot. It’s an exciting performance.
For me, this kind of excitement tends to show off the performer more than it does the composition that is being performed. And when the piece is a darn good one by Ravel, it’s a shame. A quick perusal of youtube yielded at least two renditions of it that sound far superior to me: Dinu Lipatti and Emil Gilels – certainly imperfect both, but in a much more musically attractive Ravelian way. Of course, Alicia de Larrocha was very fine too. For my taste, Sviatoslav Richter was indeed outstanding in pieces that are mostly cerebral and intellectually meditative, while in the kind of music that is mainly about colors, flavors and scents, he was far less impressive.
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