- Spoken Introduction to the series by Sviatoslav Richter in the 1950's
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This release may not interest listeners who are not devoted fans of Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter or who can't take raw monaural sound. But Richter fans with a high tolerance for less than ideal sound should by all means try this disc. The sound isn't that bad considering most of the items here were recorded at a single concert given in 1952. One can hear most of what's going on and not all that much of what the audience is doing, and the actual sound of the piano is exceedingly lifelike. This disc also adds two composers to the Richter discography: Borodin, with three excerpts from his "Petite Suite," and Lyadov, with his "Etude," "Canzonetta," and "Musical Snuffbox." Other works it adds to his discography include Chopin's "C sharp minor Prelude," Glazunov's "D flat major Nocturne," and Scriabin's "Mazurka in E minor," plus the Russian pianist's only extant recording of a transcription, Liszt's arrangement of Schubert's song "Erlkönig." The real reason to try this disc is the astounding performances. The performances of the pieces Richter has recorded before -- works by Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, and Scriabin -- are dazzling and easily in the same league as his later recordings, although these accounts are more overtly virtuosic. The performances of the pieces he has not recorded before are even more impressive. Borodin's "Petite Suite" has never sounded more masterful, Lyadov's "Musical Snuffbox" has never sounded more charming, and the Schubert/Liszt "Erlkönig" is flat-out terrifying. Though this CD is not for everyone, fans will likely swoon with rapture.