Parnassus’s ongoing documentation of the little-known early period of Sviatoslav Richter’s career continues with a monumental, mostly unpublished Beethoven recital from 1951.
In one concert, lasting nearly two hours, Richter played Beethoven’s Two Rondos, Op. 51; the “Eroica” Variations, Op. 35; the Sonata No. 12, in A Flat, Op. 26; the Bagatelle, in F, Op. 33, No. 3; and the Sonata No. 27, in E Minor, Op. 79. He then completed the program with the “Diabelli” Variations, Beethoven’s largest work for piano. While there are well-known recordings of Richter playing the “Diabelli” Variations from 1971 and 1986, this is the earliest documented performance of his playing of the music.
Of the material in this concert, only the “Diabelli” Variations has ever been published before, in a domestic Korean edition which was not exported to other countries. (The original CD edition was coupled with a performance by another pianist.) The remaining material from this concert has never been published in any form.
The second disc of this set is completed with two further sets of Beethoven Variations: the Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 34; and the “Turkish March” Variations, Op. 76. Both works figured in Richter’s later repertoire, but these early performances, from 1950, have circulated only in a limited CD-R edition briefly available through an internet site.
While Richter’s performing career outside the Soviet bloc countries began in 1960, by 1950 he was already a concert artist with more than a decade of performing experience behind him. The performances on this disc, while “early” in terms of the Richter discography, are still those of a mature artist at the peak of his technical and musical abilities. They are presented in gratifyingly good sound for their period.
Beethoven: Bagatelle in F, Op. 33 No. 3
Beethoven: Diabelli Variations, Op. 120
Beethoven: Eroica Variations, Op. 35
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 12 in A flat major, Op. 26 'March Funebre'
Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Op. 90
Beethoven: Rondo in C major, Op. 51 No. 1
Beethoven: Rondo in G major, Op. 51 No. 2
Beethoven: Variations (6) for Piano on an Original Theme in F major, Op. 34