In 1960 Richtr was first exposed to the United States and immediately hated it. The only concerto recordings he made here were two: this Beethoven First from Boston and a much greater Brahms Second with the Chicago Sym. The latter bids fair to be the greatest reading by any pianist, but the Beethoven is another kettle of fish. To begin with, Munch's conception is rackety and hectoring, a travesty even in an age when early Beethoven was played large. Richter doesn't go along with the slam-bang orchestral work, keeping his solo part within restraints. His touch is lovely in the slow movement, taken slowly and on Munch's part not very sensitively. The finale comes off with high spirits and brio, but the orchestral part remains overblown.
The main attraction isn't the concerto, however, but the two sonatas, including Richter's famously reckless, impetuous "Appassionata," a classic for four decades. You can get several alternative readings of this sonata from him, and so a word of caution is in order. The sound of the piano is atrocious -- hard, glassy, and thin. How RCA, the home of Living Stereo, could countenance such nasty sonics is beyond me. The same holds true in the gentler Op. 54 sonata, and hre I think Richter is too forceful, to the point of aggression. In all, this is a renowned recording that's showing its age sonically despite Richter's undoubted brilliane in the "Appassionata."