LISZT: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Flat. Piano Concerto No. 2 in A
Major. Fantasia on Hungarian Folk Melodies. CHOPIN: Andante
Op. 22. Grande Polonaise brillante in E Flat.
These Richter performances from Proms Concerts in July 1961 have been circulated in pirate copies for years doubtless emanating from the LP transcriptions distributed by the BBC to public radio stations in the early sixties. Now from the best possible sourcethe BBC master tapeswe have these digitally remastered in superb sound. Interpretations of the two concertos are legendary, familiar to collectors from the Mercury studio recordings made for Philips shortly after these concert performances (Philips 446 200). The live performances have perhaps a touch more intensity, with Kondrashin's accompaniment always pushing forward, showcasing Richter's perfection.
The concerts were in Royal Albert Hall July 16, 1961 (Chopin) and July 18, 1961 (Liszt), a site conducive to fine reproduction. Balances are natural, piano tone perhaps a touch lacking in brilliance; however, the overall effect for these magisterial performances is just fine. The CD catalog lists Richter live performances of the Liszt works from the mid-fifties; surely the new BBC versions are the ones to have.
This release represents the BBC Legends series at its finest; let us hope treasures like this continue from these fantastic archives.
R.E.B. (Oct. 2000)