The Music Plays On

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Sviatoslav Richter

The Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter first burst onto the international scene in the early 1960's. However, his success on the world’s stages was really a fait accompli as he had been touring throughout the Soviet Union and China to great acclaim for over a decade. Richter’s repertoire was immense and he continued to learn new pieces up until his final years, but he had a special affinity for Schubert. Schubert’s music fit his personality. Richter was intensely private and withdrawn and while he was certainly known for the famous grand concertos by Tchaikovsky and Brahms and the epic sonatas of Chopin and Prokofiev, is the interior and reflective music of Schubert that I always want to hear played by Richter.

Richter didn’t like to make studio recordings and most of what we have today are from live recitals. However, he did make a famous studio recording of Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy.

Luckily, there are many live recordings one can listen to on YouTube of Richter’s Schubert, but I’d like to share with you three remarkable videos. The first is a Schubert recital from the Aldeburgh Festival in 1977.

The second is a complete performance of Schubert’s song-cycle, Die Winterreise with the incomparable tenor, Peter Schreier.

Finally, a beautifully filmed Schubert Lied recital with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.