Sviatoslav Teofilovich Richter (March 20 [O.S. March 7] 1915 – August 1, 1997) was a Soviet pianist of Russian-German origin, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. He is known for the "depth of his interpretations, his virtuoso technique, and his vast repertoire."
Despite his large discography, Richter disliked the recording process, and most of his recordings originate from live performances. Thus, his live recitals from Moscow (1948), Warsaw (1954 and 1972), Sofia (1958), New York City (1960), Leipzig (1963), Aldeburgh (multiple years), la Grange de Meslay near Tours (multiple years), Prague (multiple years), Salzburg (1977) and Amsterdam (1986), are considered among the finest documents of his playing, as are other live recordings issued during his lifetime and since his death on labels including Music & Arts, BBC Legends, Philips, Russia Revelation, Parnassus, and Ankh Productions.
Other critically acclaimed live recordings by Richter include performances of Scriabin's selected études, preludes and sonatas (multiple performances), Schumann's C major Fantasy (multiple performances), Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata (Moscow, 1960), Schubert's B-flat Sonata (multiple performances), Ravel's Miroirs (Prague, 1965), Liszt's B minor Sonata (multiple performances, 1965–66), Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata (multiple performances, 1975) and selected preludes by Rachmaninoff (multiple performances) and Debussy (multiple performances).
Despite his professed hatred for the studio, Richter took the recording process seriously. For instance, after a long recording session for Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, for which he had used a Bösendorfer piano, Richter listened to the tapes and, dissatisfied with his performance, told the recording engineer "Well, I think we'll remake it on the Steinway after all". Similarly, during a recording session for Schumann's Toccata, Richter reportedly chose to play this piece (which Schumann himself considered "among the most difficult pieces ever written") several times in a row, without taking any breaks, in order to preserve the spontaneity of his interpretation.
According to Falk Schwartz and John Berrie's 1983 article "Sviatoslav Richter – A Discography", in the 1970s Richter announced his intention of recording his complete solo repertoire "on some 50 discs". This "complete" Richter project did not come to fruition, however, although twelve LPs worth of recordings were pressed between 1970 and 1973 and were subsequently re-issued (in CD format) by Olympia (various composers, 10 CDs) and RCA (Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier).
In 1961, Richter's recording with Erich Leinsdorf and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra of the Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2 won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance – Concerto or Instrumental Soloist. That recording is still considered a landmark (despite Richter's dissatisfaction with it), as are his studio recordings of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy, Liszt's two Piano Concertos, Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto and Schumann's Toccata, among many others.
Rimsky-Korsakoff Piano Concerto
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 1
Rachmaninov Piano Concertos No. 2
Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 1
Glazunov Piano Concerto No. 1
Studio Recordings · 1950-59
Total duration: 2hr 33:34
Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Moscow Youth Orchestra
USSR Radio & TV Large Symphony Orchestra
Yevgeny Mravinsky - Kirill Kondrashin - Kurt Sanderling, conductors