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4.8 out of 5 stars
Dvorák: Piano Concerto / Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 April 2017
This disc contains quite sensational playing by Richter. His authority seems beyond question in this and indeed all the repertoire he played - the sound is so big, it is as if he has some instinct for the right pulse and weighting at every turn. The sound tends to be on the dry side, but completely wonderful. The Dvorak Concerto is always considered to be the least interesting of the three works he wrote in the form, but hearing it played like this you are convinced it is a masterpiece. The grandeur of the first movement, its yearning also, which is the focus of the slow movement. At 5' there is a sequential passage with single notes in the right hand that wouldn't look like anything on the page, yet is intensely beautiful - the very kind of thing that was second nature to Schubert, whose melodic gift he in the most obvious inheritor of. The finale is a high-spirited dumka, really quite thrilling in the hands of Kleiber and Richter, but then a more legendary pairing would be hard to imagine. It seems ironic they should have come together to record this, a work that really needed a boost to get it out of the doldrums. The Wanderer Fantasy is given a very high-octane reading by Richter, set down in 1977, but remastered so that although there is a lot of presence it can sound almost a bit fierce, as if over-oxygenated. Nevertheless one adjusts and the experience is fantastic. The Concerto dates from 1963 and has remarkable bloom as heard on this 2015 reissue.
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on 18 May 2013
Richter was very fond of the Dvorak concerto and always played the original version. On his first visit to Britain in 1961 it was the first concerto he played, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin in the Albert Hall. On that visit Philips recorded studio performances of the Liszt Concertos which the same artists also played in concert, but unfortunately not the Dvorak. So far as I know, this recording made in Munich for the work's centenary in the 1970s is the only time Richter made a studio recording of it, so it is disappointing that a more appropriate orchestra and conductor were not employed. The Czech conductor Karel Ancerl once said that the first thing he had to do when conducting Dvorak with a German orchestra was to persuade them how NOT to play it, and this is what doesn't seem to have happened here. Richter plays the solo part beautifully, but as soon as the orchestra enters the style becomes inflated and pompous, quite the wrong thing for Dvorak's music in general and this concerto in particular. Kleiber is certainly efficient enough, and the orchestra seems to be a good one, but even Richter himself seems a bit inhibited by the circumstances, and the recording is a little below standard for the period - not as clear as the Liszt made fifteen or so years earlier, for example. Apparently Richter himself was very dissatisfied by the atmosphere during the recording and by the result, and this is not surprising.

Recordings of live performances by Richter in the Dvorak Concerto do exist - the LSO / Kondrashin one mentioned above (download now available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005QJ1R7U/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp?ie=UTF8&qid=1390567951&sr=8-2), one made in Prague with Vaclav Smetacek and also one with Yevgeni Svetlanov. Any of these show Richter much more successfully in this concerto, though none is too well recorded - the Prague version is the easiest to find, on the French Praga label. Two recordings by other pianists were also made for the centenary - Bruno Rigutto with the French National Radio Orchestra and Zdenek Macal, Radoslav Kvapil with Brno Orchestra and Frantisek Jilek - both good performances. More recently, the Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi has recorded an excellent performance with the BBC Symphony orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek, and this is also a very enjoyable performance, though at times very relaxed in the quieter passages. Any of these three performances present the work in its true scale and colours.

The Schubert Wanderer is given a superb performance, unlike any other I've heard.
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on 1 September 2011
Nobody, apart from perhaps Rudolf Firkusny, has made such a convincing case for the Dvorak Piano Concerto as Richter has. But Firkusny never had the benefit of working with Carlos Kleiber, who illuminates the orchestral part with so many felicitous details while at the same time sounding fresh and spontaneous. Richter's playing carries the authority one would expect from such a marvellous pianist. The Dvorak is a deceptively difficult piece - it doesn't sound particularly 'virtuosic' but is at the same time extremely difficult to play. Richter makes light of the technical difficulties in a mercurial performance that doesn't lack poise either. It's clear he loves the work.

Interestingly, Richter himself thought this recording wasn't altogether successful, saying that both he and Kleiber were tense at the time. If that was the case, I certainly don't think it shows - this, more than any other recording, makes the Dvorak sound like an A-list piece.

The Schubert Wanderer Fantasy is also a classic - only Richter has managed to capture the full terror of the outburst in the Adagio, for example. This recording is more polished and controlled than his wild (but more exciting) live recording on BBC Legends.
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on 7 March 2017
Compulsive playing from Richter in both Dvorak and Schubert although I understand Richter was not completely satisfied with the concerto.
I thought this an excellent disc all round.
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on 23 November 2015
THE BEST PIANIST for Dvorak piano concerto ever, AND CONDUCTOR !

Noretta Conci Leech
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on 7 March 2015
Loved it!
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on 12 February 2012
In all fairness, this is a wonderful disc. One of the greatest pianists of the 20th century playing Dvorak's beautiful concerto under the baton of arguably the greatest conductor of the last century is an event in itself. The outcome is simply spell-binding. The recording quality is surprisingly good. Richter's reading of Schubert's gorgeous music is beyond reproach. This I believe, is a must-buy.
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on 11 January 2010
Richter plays Dvorak Piano Concerto with warm affection and admirable technical polish. The way he captures the rapt serenity of the slow movement is simply magical. The outer movements glow with poetic beauty and rich tonal colours.

Wanderer-Fantasy, played with penetrating tone and uncompromising technical refinement, receives Lisztian rendition; not a hint of sentimentalism, but radiant with transcendental beauty.

Relatively good stereo recordings, beautifully remastered.
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