Richter in Hungary (1954-1993) - 14 CD Box Set



CD 1 - CD 2

The 1954 Concerts, Budapest


In early March 1954, as part of the ‘Month of Soviet-Hungarian Friendship’, Richter arrived in Budapest as a member of a large Soviet delegation of artists. The 39-year-old pianist was completely unknown at the time to the Hungarian public, but in a matter of moments he had Budapest music-lovers enraptured. Many legends later circulated about his first Budapest concerts: that these were his first appearances abroad; that the Great Hall of the Music Academy had to be filled with soldiers and students for the first concert, because nobody was interested in the unknown Soviet pianist; that in the interval of his first solo recital Budapest telephone were jammed as everyone tried to call their friends and acquaintances to come to the Academy of Music, because they’d never heard the like; that during the performance of Beethoven’s Appassionata the bewitched audience gradually stood up and listened to the pianist in amazement.

In spring 1954 Richter performed in Hungary twelve times: he performed as soloist in four orchestral concerts, played chamber music with the Tchaikovsky Quartet also visiting from Moscow, gave two solo recitals, two small concerts for young people, one in Győr with the singer Mark Reizen, and two invitation-only concerts.

On 8 March Richter made his first joint appearance with the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra with János Ferencsik, in which he performed Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor (op. 54, 1841–45) and as an encore pieces from Johannes Brahms’ Klavierstücke op. 118 (1892). As the soloist in the concerto, besides the utter perfection and the sparkling virtuosity of his playing, it now became apparent that he had a special sensitivity for Schumann’s music, and furthermore an outstanding attentiveness towards his partners, the orchestra and conductor: the merit for the delicate undulation of the balance and proportion of sound on this recording goes to both Richter and Ferencsik. ‘I was very pleased to be able to perform with János Ferencsik,’ said the pianist after a concert in the journal Sovetskaya Kultura. ‘In our joint appearance we managed to create the kind of unfettered soaring, and yet a close relationship, that rarely comes into being between conductor and soloist.

The program of his solo recital on 10 March included half a dozen preludes and fugues from Book I of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV 847, 856, 857, 864, 865, 1722), Bach’s French Suite in C minor (BWV 813, from the 1720s) a Mozart sonata, Beethoven’s Appasionata and for encore, three pieces by Chopin. The Bach of the ‘young’ Richter (he was 39 at the time) was typified by puritanical clarity, pregnant and rigorous shaping, and monochrome dynamics. In an interview to the review Új Zenei Szemle Richter spoke interestingly about questions of style in playing Bach, still pertinent today: ‘To penetrate deep into the essence of the work entails attempting to conjure up the atmosphere of the era, the contemporary sound. I am not thinking here of slavish imitation of the sound of early instruments, such as the harpsichord, but the creation of the atmosphere surrounding the work. In spite of this, my opinion is that some of Bach’s works should be performed on a harpsichord, and I would gladly do so myself, if I had access to a suitable instrument.’

Richter’s second solo recital on 26 March comprised works by Prokofiev and Ravel. His first public performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 8 (op. 84, 1939–44) had been in Moscow in 1944. In a piece he wrote on the composer, Richter said of the composition: ‘Of all Prokofiev’s sonatas, this is the richest. It has a complex inner life, replete with deep contradictions. At times it seems to freeze, as if to surrender itself to the implacable passing of time. It is difficult to access, precisely because of its richness – like a tree dripping heavy with fruit.’ In his 1954 Budapest concert the Prokofiev work sounded in all its splendor. The rest of the official programme included three pieces by Maurice Ravel: the Pavane pour une infante défunte (1899), the second piece of Gaspard de la nuit, Le gibet (1908) and the Valses nobles et sentimentales (1911), and by way of encore Richter played a half-concert’s-worth of Prokofiev, Ravel and Rachmaninov works, of which this disc features two pieces by Ravel: Jeux d’eau (1901) and the fourth piece of the Miroirs cycle, the Alborada del gracioso (1905). The clear contours, classical part writing and archaicisms of Ravel’s piano music in Richter’s performances took on a similarly clear, simple, rhythmic and pregnant form, like the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, with a multitude of colors, shades of touch, and sparkling virtuosity.




CD 3

The 1958 Concerts, Budapest


In February 1958 Richter appeared seven times: in addition to two large-scale solo recitals and an invitation-only event he gave two concerts with his wife Nina Dorliac, a chamber music recital with the Tátrai Quartet, and as a soloist with the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra, he played piano concertos by Mozart and Brahms in the Erkel Theatre, conducted by András Kórody. At his first solo recital on 9 February in the Great Hall of the Academy of Music he performed Schubert’s Sonata in C minor, Schumann’s Toccata in C major and Musorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, with encores by Rachmaninov and Debussy, and at the second on 11 February he played the Schubert A major Sonata, the C major Moment Musical, three impromptus and works by Liszt.

Richter played Franz Schubert’s four-movement late C minor sonata (D. 958, 1828) in Budapest in February 1958 and March 1973. Though the difference between the earlier and the later interpretation is enormous, the tempos and time proportions of the two performances are similar, and reflect the same basic conception, namely: the intensification of Schubertian wanderer music into a flight from pursuers, and the transformation of longed-for happiness into mere illusion, a scheme which Richter conveyed with wonderful poetry on both occasions. The earlier Schubert interpretation is perhaps more aloof, yet it is more technically compact, and the characteristic subito forte and piano effects have great impact. The Toccata in C major by Robert Schumann (op. 7, 1833) is played at a rattling tempo, with extraordinary dynamism and fervor.

Richter’s second 1958 solo recital also included magical pieces by Schubert; rather than this early recording of the A major Sonata (D. 664) this series includes the later one made at the 1978 Budapest concert (CD 10). In his performance of Schubert’s C major Moment Musical (D. 780/1, 1828) simple beauty is combined with an enormous dynamic intensity. But the real sensation of the concert for the Hungarian audience was the series of Liszt pieces. In his own characteristic manner he mingled the highly popular virtuoso works with the rarefied atmosphere of Liszt’s later compositions. Franz Liszt’s second Concert Etude, Gnomenreigen (Dance of the Gnomes, 1863) shows the artist’s astounding virtuosity. In Richter’s interpretation, the sentimental banality of Liebesträume (Dreams of Love, 1845–50, three Notturni, transcriptions of Liszt songs), is ennobled to music with a powerful inner charge. Particularly beautiful is the poetry that radiates from the expressive rendition of the Petrarch Sonnet 123 (Années de pèlerinage, Deuxième annee: Italie, 1838–39/1850). The performance of the three Valses oubliées (1881–83) is characterized by pregnant rhythms, brilliant runs, trills, repeated notes and outstandingly sensitive touch. Hungarian critics could not help but conclude that Richter’s playing is just as unique in its own way, as Franz Liszt’s must have been in his time.

In Dorliac and Richter’s Song recital on 12 February, the songs sung in the original language shone out: Modest Musorgsky’s The Nursery and songs from Claude Debussy’s series Ariettes oubliées (1888), which lent themselves especially well to Nina Dorliac’s supple, light soprano, and Richter’s accompaniment underlined the character of the music even more and created perfectly attuned chamber music.

In autumn 1958 and 1961 Richter appeared in orchestral concerts in Budapest, as the soloist in Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Liszt’s A major Piano Concerto. At the Liszt concert, by way of an encore he played the Hungarian Fantasy with the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra conducted by János Ferencsik, earning riotous applause.



CD 4 - CD 5

The 1963 Concerts, Budapest


Having arrived from Vienna, Richter gave a solo recital on 27 and 29 April 1963 in the Academy of Music and the Erkel Theatre respectively, and on 30 April performed in Debrecen. The programme of the two Budapest concerts is radically different, while the Debrecen programme is a combination of the two.

The program for the concert in the Music Academy on 27 April featured a Beethoven sonata, followed by works by Schubert almost or wholly unknown to the Hungarian audience. In his performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s B-flat major Sonata (op. 22, 1799/1800) the many faces of the master from Bonn are clearly apparent: in the first movement the unbridled vivacity of the young Beethoven – in Richter’s ‘clamp’, the elegantly polished social style of the minuet and the closing rondo, and the Adagio, which on his piano Richter plays in the countless shades between pianissimo and mezzopiano, the voice of rumination and suffering. Franz Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke (D. 946, 1828) date from the year of the composer’s death, and each of them is built on intricate melodies of infinite tormentation and boundless peace; Richter played them as a minstrel recounting his own ballad to the audience. The notorious technical difficulties of the C major Wanderer Fantasy are charged with substance in Richter’s performance, and the public at the Music Academy witnessed several descents to hell and cathartic purifications.


The program of his 29 April concert spans the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. His performance of Georg Friedrich Händel’s four-movement Suite in E major (No. 5, 1720) moves from a grand, Romantic, heavily pedaled Prelude to increasingly puritan simplicity, and Richter plays the complex ornaments of the closing variation movement with utter clarity. The Händel suite is linked by key to the first of Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues, in E minor, written more than two centuries later. The six pieces selected from Dmitri Shostakovich’s 24 Preludes and Fugues (op. 87, 1952) are a visionary Richterian combination, which ignores the original order completely (no. 4 in E minor, no. 12 in G-sharp minor, no. 23 in F major, no. 14 in E-flat minor, no. 17 in A-flat major and no. 15 in D-flat major), and whose basic principle is the contrast of each piece: after delicate, sensitive, intricate music comes a concise bass variation and a snappy fugue; after introverted music, extrovert. In Richter’s performance these Shostakovich pieces sound perfectly simple and natural, yet highly colorful. Another individual, colorful and varied compilation was the ten pieces he played from the series of twenty of Sergei Prokofiev’s Мимолетности (Visions Fugitives, op. 22, 1915–17), which Richter presented to the audience in three small ‘bouquets’ to the raving public, showing how different the flowers Russian-Soviet music had put forth in the gardens of Shostakovich and Prokofiev.




CD 6

1965, Budapest


In summer 1965 Richter travelled the breadth of Hungary: on 16 July he played in Szombathely, on the 17th in Budapest and on the 21st in Miskolc. Much of the program of the Szombathely concert was also played in Budapest, but he gave the public a completely different offering in Miskolc: here he played, for the only time on Hungarian territory, the Liszt B minor Sonata. No recording was made of the Miskolc concert.

The program of the solo recital in the Erkel Theatre included works by Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin. Richter played the outer movements of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s three-movement F major Sonata (K. 280, 1774) with poetry but restraint, as if playing Haydn on an eighteenth-century instrument; the great surprise pauses in the closing movement also gave this impression. But the ruminative performance of the great central slow movement tipped Mozart’s music in a Schubertian direction. The grand interpretation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in A major (op. 101, 1816) with its free treatment of agogics, revealed the enormous contrasts of the work: from the contemplative opening movement through the volatile march, the marvelously peaceful and restrained slow movement, to the flexible rhythms and impish elements of the finale, crowned with a fugue – he cast the sonata in one single arc. In Frédéric Chopin’s Four Scherzos (B minor, op. 20, 1831–32, B-flat minor, op. 31, 1837, C-sharp minor, op. 39, and E major, op. 54, 1842) Richter boldly emphasized the light and shade of Chopin’s music, creating huge contrast between the racing main themes and the calm central sections.



CD 7

The 1967 Concerts


Once more, Richter arrived unexpectedly in summer to surprise the Budapest audiences with two concerts on successive evenings in the Erkel Theatre with completely different programs.

After the large-scale Beethoven–Schubert program of 27 August Richter took his leave of the public with a lyrically soaring performance of two Schumann Novelettes (F major and D major op. 21, 1838); many considered the two encores to be the most memorable moment of the concert. On 28 August he played Haydn, Chopin and Debussy, unraveling the hidden threads that bind together these three great composers of keyboard music, each from a different culture. Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in C major (Hob.XVI:35, 1779–80) strikes a note of classical beauty and clarity, with transparent texture on Richter’s piano. Similar clarity, natural impetus, and flexible mazurka rhythms with delicate ornamentation characterize a performance of a less well-known early work by Frédéric Chopin, the Rondeau à la mazur (op. 5, 1826). After the Ballade in G minor, in Claude Debussy’s Twelve Preludes (Book II, 1910–13) Richter continued and consummated the concert with pastel tints of musical colors, the pianistic novelties, and nuanced gradations of tone-color. This series of twelve pieces, each strikingly individual in its relation to the series and highly varied within itself, satisfied even Richter’s high dramaturgic demands, so – unusually for him – he played the entire Book II of Debussy’s Préludes in the original order, to the great delight of the audience.

In autumn 1967 Richter returned to Budapest, and on 18 September performed Britten’s Piano Concerto with the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by János Ferencsik.




CD 8

1969, Budapest


In November 1969 Richter again arrived in Hungary from the West: after performing in Sopron and Veszprém, he gave two concerts in the Great Hall of the Budapest Music Academy. This time the program of the four concerts was almost identical: after Schubert variations and a selection from Schumann’s Fantasiestücke there followed 12 Rachmaninov Preludes, and at the second Budapest concert Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 8.

The solo recital in the Music Academy on 18 November was perhaps Richter’s most successful Budapest concert, with its intellectually and technically perfect performances, its every moment an enthralling experience. He once more produced an unknown work by Franz Schubert: Thirteen Variations on a Theme by Anselm Hüttenbrenner (D. 576, 1817), a fairly early composition, with a very simple theme (reminiscent of the opening melody of the slow movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7), and after some charming figured variations the gates of heaven and hell are flung open. With the six pieces from Robert Schumann’s series of Fantasiestücke (op. 12, 1837), Richter’s Schumann reached its highest peak: he saw Schumann’s world as one infinitely broad, in which demented passion and profound calm could coexist, all in a crystal-clear form – similarly, though in quite a different manner, to Schubert’s music. ‘Whoever would have thought that an almost tangible musical question mark could be drawn in the concert hall’s incandescent air?’ wrote one Hungarian critic of the performance of Warum? (Why?). The performance of the twelve preludes, selected from Sergei Rachmaninov’s op. 23 (1903–04) and op. 32 (1910) series with the characteristic Richterian sense of drama persuaded the Hungarian public, who had until then looked down somewhat on the Russian composer, of Rachmaninov’s true value; he showed the full significance of the unusual harmonies, the character now veiled, now full of bold feeling, the color that hovers on the border between dream and reality. One of the encores to the concert was one of the few transcriptions that Richter was willing to play (and how splendidly!) – the Waltz from Sergei Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace (op. 91, 1944).

In 1972 Richter’s journey bisected Hungary from north to south: in the morning of 16 February he stopped off in Debrecen to practice (which in the small green room behind the great hall of the local Music School all the teachers, young and old alike, listened to with bated breath), and that evening performed in Szeged, the following day in Subotica (Yugoslavia); the treasures of the Szeged concert are contained in Disc 10. In 1973 he performed in Budapest in both spring and autumn: in March he gave two Bach recitals, and in a third played two grand late Schubert sonatas, whilst in October he gave a memorable concert with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau of Hugo Wolf’s Mörike Lieder.




CD 9

The 1973 Bach Concerts


On 13 and 15 March in the Great Hall of the Budapest Music Academy Richter played the entire Book II of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV 870–903, 1738–42) right through. After the two concerts he gave precise designations to the staff of Hungarian Radio what could and could not be broadcast; some of the preludes and fugues from the encores he played so that they could be used to substitute for a performance (in his view) a less than satisfactory. The compilation on this disc was made on the basis of the approved selection by the pianist.

Richter played Bach with the same simplicity and conciseness in 1973 as he had in 1954; yet his tone had changed, becoming more colorful and saturated with emotion, the scale of color running from whispered pianissimos to mezzo forte, in a thousand gradations of tone and touch. He played the piano with the lid down, which depending on the character of each prelude and fugue sounded now like a domestic clavichord, now like a ringing harpsichord, now like a normal hammer-action piano. In pieces of every character – the calm, contemplative works muted with the una corda pedal (such as the C-sharp major and C-sharp minor preludes, the D-sharp minor and A-flat major fugues and the A minor prelude), the bright, energetic pieces (such as the C major fugue, the C minor prelude, the C-sharp minor, E-flat major, A major, A minor, and B minor fugues), and the playful dance-like movements (the C-sharp major fugue, the E-flat major, G major and B major preludes) the parts weave perfectly clearly, each one with its own color and life, while the whole composition takes firm shape in Richter’s performance.

At the end of 1974 Richter gave two concerts in Pécs, and in April 1975 appeared in Győr. In December 1976 he played two recitals in the Budapest Music Academy, a mostly new program of Beethoven sonatas and Schumann and Chopin works never before heard by him in Hungary. In spring 1977 he appeared in Debrecen, and in August 1978 once more in the capital, en route, with a Schubert, Schumann and Debussy program.




CD 10

Excerpts from the 1972 Szeged, and 1976 and 1978 Budapest concerts


The recording of the legendary Szeged concert is only slightly marred by the less than perfect instrument and acoustic environment. After Schubert’s magnificent late C minor Sonata, which Richter also played in Budapest in 1958, then in 1973, a rarely heard gem followed: five pieces from Volume I of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Songs without Words (op. 19b, 1830). In Richter’s hands these small poetic pieces sound in all their lyrical beauty, with some heart-stopping dramatic moments. Frédéric Chopin’s early B-flat minor Nocturne (op. 9, 1830) also sang out with wonderful lyricism. The continuation was an organic progression, with the three pieces of Book I of Claude Debussy’s Images roaming through the broad world of the magic of nature, a ballad-like vision, and a perpetuum mobile. The encores included one unusual piece by Debussy, the Hommage à Haydn.

On 10 December 1976 in the Academy of Music after the Beethoven sonata and the Schumann work he played pieces by Frédéric Chopin. In the F major Waltz (op. 34, 1831) Richter conveyed the dizziness of the dance with capricious rhythms and marked accentuation, and in the D-flat major Waltz (op. 70, 1829), its gentle lilt and singing character. The four Mazurkas are played with impressive simplicity and beauty, with refined yet striking ornamentation.

Franz Schubert’s earlier A major Sonata (D. 664, 1819) commenced and continued with such sweet, calm singing tones in the summer 1978 concert in Budapest, one would think life’s dark powers, Richter’s demons, did not exist. Even the heavy octaves in the left hand merged into this gentle character, and in the closing movement there shone sunshine and humor.




CD 11

The 1976 Beethoven Recital in the Budapest Music Academy


The concert of 9 December could be entitled ‘The Character Development of Young Beethoven’ or ‘Bildungsroman: between Classicism and Romanticism, from 1795 to 1801’. Richter played the opening movement of the op. 2 F minor Sonata (1795) at a surprisingly slow tempo, in a classicizing manner, and the Adagio’s infinite calm showed no sign of swerving off this course. Greater contrasts sounded in the Minuet, and with the fervid scurrying of the closing Prestissimo the audience was transported to the world of Schubert. In his performance of the first movement of the op. 10 D major Sonata (1796–98) was apparent the rich thematic variety, the emotional world and the expansion of the register of the fully-developed Beethovenian sonata form process. In the Largo e mesto the deepest of sorrows was expressed with the simplest of means. With the enormous change to the delicate song of the Minuet and the playfully cheerful Rondo (though not devoid of scare tactics), he placed the mature Beethoven on the Music Academy stage. The op. 14 E major Sonata (1798) once more takes us back to the world of Classical proportion and clarity, spiced up with a few Richterian ‘thunderbolts’, and with a feverish drive to the closing rondo. The opening set of variations of the op. 26 A-flat major Sonata (1800–01) seems in Richter’s interpretation to presage the piano music of Schumann. In place of the second-movement minuet stands a scherzo, initially gentle, but increasingly wild, and after the grave, solemn, but clear and transparent playing of the Marcia funebre, lamenting the death of a hero, the finale starts enigmatically but playfully, to become a dramatic chase, a terrifying sprint.

In summer 1980 Richter arrived in Hungary from the east, and appeared with the same program in Miskolc and Budapest. On 11 and 12 September 1982 he surprised the audience in the Pest Vigadó concert hall with unusual works: after rarely-heard pieces by Liszt he played Franck and Szymanowski. In summer 1983 he arrived with another unconventional program, compiled of Tchaikovsky’s piano music and pieces from Rachmaninov’s cycle of Études-Tableaux. In January 1985 he performed with the young violist Yuri Bashmet in the Hungarian State Opera House, with a program of Haydn, Hindemith and Debussy on the first evening, and Hindemith, Britten and Shostakovich on the second. On Easter Sunday 1985 he once more travelled through Hungary, and in an invitation-only concert one afternoon played exclusively Hindemith. In early summer 1986 he stopped to give two concerts in Győr.




CD 12

Excerpts from the concerts in the Pest Vigadó Hall, 1982 and the Opera House, 1985


In the darkened hall of the Pest Vigadó the pianist’s music was illuminated by one single standard lamp. Richter selected some less popular and showy pieces from Franz Liszt’s Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (1847–52), and he was engrossed in the performance of this meditative music. This disc features the contemplative suffering of the Andante lagrimoso (no. 9). In Richter’s organically structured performance, César Franck’s large-scale tripartite composition, the Prélude, Chorale and Fugue (1884) took on a discursive style, with organ-like sonorities. After the sonata by Karol Szymanowski, he played four Mazurkas from Szymanowski’s op. 50 series, pieces with a peculiar modal flavor and conceived in the harmonic world of the twentieth century, whose melancholy mood, contemplative nature and passionate rhythms perfectly suited the atmosphere of the concert.

On 14 January 1985, in the second half of his joint concert with Yuri Bashmet in the Hungarian State Opera House he played ten pieces from Book I of Claude Debussy’s Préludes. Omitting La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) and Minstrels, he forged the series into a tripartite cycle with his own individual dramaturgy. The five preludes of the first part – Danseuses de Delphes, Voiles, Le Vent dans le plaine, Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir, Les collines d’Anacapri – was a basically pastel formulation of colours, shadows and scents, yet with great internal variety. The second – Des pas sur la neige, and Ce qu’a vu le vent d’Ouest – was a sombre, stark, shockingly concise image of a winter landscape and a turbulent seascape, and the third – La sérénade interrompue, La Cathédrale engloutie, and La Danse de Puck – was the poetry of the real world, with concrete sonorities, a rigorous structure and pregnant rhythm.




CD 13

The 1983 Tchaikovsky–Rachmaninov Recital at the Academy of Music


In this concert Richter presented the Hungarian public with two segments of the peculiar Russian world, very different one from the other, though nurtured by the same roots. With piano works by Pyotr Tchaikovsky (four pieces from the series The Seasons op. 71/b, 1875–76, the F major Nocturne op. 10/1, 1871, the A major Valse-scherzo op. 7, 1870, the E minor Humoresque op. 10/2, 1871, the B-flat major Capriccioso op. 19/5, 1873, the A-flat major Valse op. 40/8, 1876–78, the F minor Romance op. 5, 1882), he conjured up the atmosphere of the salons in the country houses of the nineteenth-century Russian nobility – now intimate and refined, now clod-hopping, simultaneously smiling and tearful – and its rarely-seen tragedies. Tchaikovsky’s little genre pieces were played in a fine, simple, expressive performance, in which Richter gave them the same attention and absorption as the greatest music.

The eight works chosen from Sergei Rachmaninov’s two series of Études-Tableaux (op. 33/9, 5, 6, 1911 and op. 39/1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 1916–17) show the visionary, tragic world of the early twentieth century, with pieces predominantly in the minor, chiming funereal music, triumphant fanfares, shrill orchestral and organ-like sonorities, which sounded with captivating virtuosity in Richter’s hands, triggering a spontaneous applause after almost every work.

In the early 1990s Richter visited Budapest twice more: in June 1991 he gave a solo recital of Bach and Mozart in the Academy of Music and played two Bach concerti with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra. In autumn 1993 he stopped for one single concert, and this was the last time the Hungarian audiences were able to hear him.




CD 14

The Last Concert in Budapest


On 9 November 1993 the 78-year-old pianist gave a concert in Budapest’s new concert hall, the Budapest Congress Centre, with a capacity of fifteen hundred, in which the intimacy of the musicianship surpassed the atmosphere of the 1983 Tchaikovsky–Rachmaninov recital. Richter made a personal selection from the 68 compositions in the seventeen volumes of Liriske stykker (Lyric Pieces) by Edvard Grieg, whose 150th anniversary was that year.

This time the selection kept to the composer’s chronological order, and the 22 pieces played in the concert showed in their continuity and their diversity the highly original voice of the ‘musical diary’ kept by the Norwegian composer for 34 years: Arietta, Waltz, Watchman’s song, Elves’ Dance (op. 12, 1867), Spring Dance, Canon (op. 38, 1883), Butterfly, To the Spring (op. 43, 1884), Valse-impromptu (op. 47, 1888), Norwegian March, Scherzo, Bell Ringing (op. 54, 1891), Secret, She Dances, Homesickness (op. 57, 1893), Phantom (op. 62, 1895), Wedding Day in Troldhaugen (op. 65, 1896), Evening in the Mountains (op. 68, 1898), Puck, Peace in the Woods, Gone, Remembrances (op. 71, 1901). There were character pieces, genre pictures, programmatic miniatures, impressionistic tone poems, dances and spirited folklore works – played simply and expressively, markedly accentuated even in their reticence, and with the marvelous richness of color of Richter’s touch. The whole evening was spent in a spirit of philosophical musing almost independent of the instrument, in which nostalgia and sadness were more present than cheeriness; the profound message of a great elderly artist through miniature masterpieces.




CD 1

Richter in Hungary (1954)

Schumann: Piano concerto in A minor, op. 54
01. I. Allegro affettuoso


02. II. Intermezzo (Andantino grazioso)


03. III. Allegro vivace


04. Brahms: Intermezzo in A minor, op. 118/1


05. Brahms: Intermezzo in E-flat minor, op. 118/6

Academy of Music (Budapest, 8 March, 1954)


Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, Book I (selection)
06. Prelude in C minor


07. Fugue in C minor


08. Prelude in F major


09. Fugue in F major


10. Prelude in F minor


11. Fugue in F minor


12. Prelude in A major


13. Fugue in A major


14. Prelude in A minor


15. Fugue in A minor


Bach: French Suite in C minor, BWV 813 16. I. Allemande


17. II. Courante


18. III. Sarabande


19. IV. Air


20. V. Menuet I – II


21. VI. Gigue

Academy of Music (Budapest, 10 March, 1954)



CD 2

Richter in Hungary (1954)

Prokofiev: Sonata No. 8 in B-flat major, op. 84
01. I. Andante dolce – Allegro moderato – Andante dolce


02. II. Andante sognando


03. III. Finale (Vivace)


04. Ravel: Pavane pour une infante défunte


05. Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit No. 2 – Le gibet


Ravel: Valses nobles et sentimentales 06. I. Modéré très franc


07. II. Assez lent – avec une expression intense


08. III. Modéré


09. IV. Assez animé


10. V. Presque lent – dans un sentiment intime


11. VI. Vif


12. VII. Moins vif


13. VIII. Épilogue. Lent


14. Ravel: Jeux d’eau


15. Ravel: Alborada del gracioso

Academy of Music (Budapest, 26 March, 1954)



CD 3

Richter in Hungary (1958)

Schubert: Sonata in C minor, D. 958
01. I. Allegro


02. II. Adagio


03. III. Menuetto (Allegro)


04. IV. Allegro


05. 5. Schumann: Toccata, op. 7

Academy of Music (Budapest, 9 February, 1958)


06. Schubert: Moment musical in C major, D. 780/1


07. Liszt: Gnomenreigen


Liszt: Liebesträume 08. No. 2 in E major


09. No. 3 in A flat major


Liszt: Valses oubliées 10. No. 1


11. No. 2


12. No. 3


13. Liszt: Sonetto 123 del Petrarca

Academy of Music (Budapest, 11 February, 1958)


Debussy: Ariettes oubliées 14. No. 1 C’est l’extase langoureuse


15. No. 5 (Aquarelles I.) - Green

Bartók Hall (Budapest, 12 February, 1958)



CD 4

Richter in Hungary (1963)

Beethoven: Sonata in B-flat major, op. 22.
01. I. Allegro con brio


02. II. Adagio con molto espressione


03. III. Menuetto


04. IV. Rondo (Allegretto)


Schubert: Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946 05. 1. Allegro assai - Andante - Tempo I.


06. 2. Allegretto


07. 3. Allegro


Schubert: Wanderer fantasy in C major, D. 760 08. I. Allegro con fuoco ma non troppo


09. II. Adagio


10. III. Presto


11. IV. Allegro

Academy of Music (Budapest, 27 April, 1963)



CD 5

Richter in Hungary (1963)

Händel: Suite No. 5 in E major
01. I. Prelude


02. II. Allemande


03. III. Courante


04. IV. Air and Five Variations


Shostakovich: Six preludes and fugues, op. 87
Prelude and fugue No. 4 in E minor 05. Prelude: Andante


06. Fugue: Adagio


Prelude and fugue No. 12 in G-sharp minor 07. Prelude: Andante


08. Fugue: Allegro


Prelude and fugue No. 23 in F major 09. Prelude: Adagio


10. Fugue: Moderato con moto


Prelude and fugue No. 14 in E-flat minor 11. 11. Prelude: Adagio


12. Fugue: Allegro non troppo


Prelude and fugue No. 17 in A-flat major 13. Prelude: Allegretto


14. Fugue: Allegretto


Prelude and fugue No. 15 in D-flat major 15. Prelude: Allegretto


16. Fugue: Allegro molto


Prokofiev: Visions fugitives, op. 22 17. No. 3 Allegretto


18. No. 4 Animato


19. No. 5 Molto giocoso


20. No. 6 Con eleganza


21. No. 8 Commodo


22. No. 9 Allegretto tranquillo


23. No. 11 Con vivacità


24. No. 14 Feroce


25. No. 15 Inquieto


26. No. 18 Con una dolce lentezza

Erkel Theatre (Budapest, 29 April, 1963)



CD 6

Richter in Hungary (1965)

Mozart: Piano sonata in F major, K. 280
01. I. Allegro assai


02. II. Adagio


03. III. Presto


Beethoven: Piano sonata in A major, op. 101 04. I. Etwas lebhaft und mit der innigsten Empfindung
– Allegretto ma non troppo


05. II. Lebhaft. Marschmässig
- Vivace alla marcia


06. III. Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll
- Adagio, ma non troppo, con affetto


07. IV. Geschwinde, doch nicht zu sehr, und mit Entschlossenheit
– Allegro


Chopin: Four scherzos 08. No. 1 in B minor, op. 20


09. No. 2 in B flat minor, op. 31


10. No. 3 in C sharp minor, op. 39


11. No. 4 in E major, op. 54

Erkel Theatre (Budapest, 17 July, 1965)



CD 7

Richter in Hungary (1967)

01. Schumann: Novellette in F major, op. 21/1


02. Schumann: Novellette in D major, op. 21/2

Erkel Theatre (Budapest, 27 August, 1967)


Haydn: Piano sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:35 03. I. Allegro con brio


04. II. Adagio


05. III. Finale. Allegro


06. Chopin: Rondo à la mazur


Debussy: Préludes for piano, Book II 07. I. Brouillards


08. II. Feuilles mortes


09. III. La puerta del Vino


10. IV. “Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses”


11. V. Bruyères


12. VI. “General Lavine” – excentric


13. VII. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune


14. VIII. Ondine


15. IX. Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq.P.P.M.P.C.


16. X. Canope


17. XI. Les tierces alternées


18. XII. Feux d’artifice

Erkel Theatre (Budapest, 28 August, 1967)



CD 8

Richter in Hungary (1969)

01. Schubert: Thirteen Variations on a Theme by Anselm Hüttenbrenner, D. 576


Schumann: Fantasiestücke, op. 12 (selection) 02. No. 1 Des Abends – Sehr innig zu spielen


03. No. 2 Aufschwung – Sehr rasch


04. No. 3 Warum? – Langsam und zart


05. No. 5 In der Nacht – Mit Leidenschaft


06. No. 7 Traumes-Wirren – Äusserst lebhaft


07. No. 8 Ende vom Lied – Mit gutem Humor


Rachmaninov: Préludes (selection) 08. F-sharp minor, op. 23/1


09. A major, op. 32/9


10. B minor, op. 32/10


11. G-sharp minor, op. 32/12


12. A-flat major, op. 23/8


13. E major, op. 32/3


14. B-flat minor, op. 32/2


15. F minor, op. 32/6


16. F major, op. 32/7


17. B-flat major, op. 23/2


18. D major, op. 23/4


19. G minor, op. 23/5


20. Prokofiev: War and Peace – Waltz, op. 96/1

Academy of Music (Budapest, 18 November, 1969)



CD 9

Richter in Hungary (1973)

Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Klavier, Book II
(selection) 01. Prelude in C major


02. Fugue in C major


03. Prelude in C minor


04. Fugue in C minor


05. Prelude in C-sharp major


06. Fugue in C-sharp major


07. Prelude in C-sharp minor


08. Fugue in C-sharp minor


09. Prelude in E-flat major


10. Fugue in E-flat major


11. Prelude in D-sharp minor


12. Fugue in D-sharp minor

Academy of Music (Budapest, 16 March, 1973)


13. Prelude in G major


14. Fugue in G major


15. Prelude in A-flat major


16. Fugue in A-flat major


17. Prelude in A major


18. Fugue in A major


19. Prelude in A minor


20. Fugue in A minor


21. Prelude in B major


22. Fugue in B major


23. Prelude in B-flat minor


24. Fugue in B-flat minor


Encores: 25. Prelude in B major


26. Prelude in B minor


27. Fugue in B minor

Academy of Music (Budapest, 18 March, 1973)



CD 10

Richter in Hungary (1972-78)

Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte, op. 19
01. No. 1 Andante con moto


02. No. 2 Andante


03. No. 3 Molto allegro e vivace


04. No. 5 Moderato


05. No. 6 Andante sostenuto


06. Chopin: Nocturne in B-flat minor, op. 9/1


Debussy: Images, Book I 07. No. 1 Reflets dans l’eau


08. No. 2 Hommage à Rameau


09. No. 3 Mouvement


10. Debussy: Hommage à Haydn

Szeged (16 February, 1972)


Chopin: Two waltzes 11. F major, op. 34/3


12. G-flat major, op. 70/1


Chopin: Four mazurkas 13. C-sharp minor, op. 63/3


14. C major, op. 67/3


15. F major, op. 68/3


16. A minor, op. post.

Academy of Music (Budapest, 10 December, 1976)


Schubert: Piano sonata in A major, D. 664 17. I. Allegro moderato


18. II. Andante


19. III. Allegro

Academy of Music (Budapest, 10 August, 1978)



CD 11

Richter in Hungary (1976)

Beethoven: Sonata in F minor, op. 2/1
01. I. Allegro


02. II. Adagio


03. III. Menuetto (Allegretto)


04. IV. Prestissimo


Beethoven: Sonata in D major, op. 10/3 05. I. Presto


06. II. Largo e mesto


07. III. Menuetto (Allegro)


08. IV. Rondo (Allegro)


Beethoven: Sonata in E major, op. 14/1 09. I. Allegro


10. II. Allegretto


11. III. Rondo (Allegro commodo)


Beethoven: Sonata in A-flat major, op. 26 12. I. Andante con variazioni


13. II. Scherzo (Allegro molto)


14. III. Marcia funebre sulla morte d’un Eroe


15. IV. Allegro

Academy of Music (Budapest, 9 December, 1976)



CD 12

Richter in Hungary (1982-85)

01. Liszt: Harmonies poétiques et religieuses (excerpt)
No. 9 Andante lagrimoso


02. Franck: Prélude, choral et fugue


Szymanowski: Mazurkas 03. op. 50/1


04. op. 50/17


05. op. 50/18


06. op. 50/3

Pesti Vigadó (Budapest, 11 September, 1982)


Debussy: Préludes, Book I (selection) 07. No. 1 Danseuses de Delphes


08. No. 2 Voiles


09. No. 3 Le vent dans la plaine


10. No. 4 “Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir”


11. No. 5 Les collines d’Anacapri


12. No. 6 Des pas sur la neige


13. No. 7 Ce qu’a a vu le Vent d’Ouest


14. No. 9 La sérénade interrompue


15. No. 10 La Cathédrale engloutie


16. No. 11 La danse de Puck

Opera House (Budapest, 14 January, 1985)



CD 13

Richter in Hungary (1983)

Tchaikovsky: The Seasons, op. 37/b
(selection) 01. May: White Nights


02. June: Barcarolle


03. November: On the Troika


04. January: By the Hearth


Tchaikovsky: Piano pieces 05. Nocturne in F major, op. 10/1


06. Valse-scherzo in A major, op. 7


07. Humoresque in E minor, op. 10/2


08. Capriccioso in B-flat major, op. 19/5


09. Valse in A-flat major, op. 40/8


10. Romance in F minor, op. 5


Rachmaninov: Études-Tableaux (selection) 11. C-sharp minor, op. 33/9


12. D minor, op. 33/5


13. E-flat minor, op. 33/6


14. C minor, op. 39/1


15. A minor, op. 39/2


16. F-sharp minor, op. 39/3


17. B minor, op. 39/4


18. D major, op. 39/9

Academy of Music (Budapest, 3 August, 1983)



CD 14

Richter in Hungary (1993)

Grieg: Lyric pieces
01. Arietta, op. 12/1


02. Vals (Waltz), op. 12/2


03. Vektersang (Watchman’s Song), op. 12/3


04. Alfedans (Elves’ Dance), op. 12/4


05. Springdans (Spring Dance), op. 38/5


06. Kanon (Canon), op. 38/8


07. Sommerfugl (Butterfly), op. 43/1


08. Til Foråret (To the Spring), op. 43/6


09. Valse-Impromptu, op. 47/1


10. Gangar (Norwegian march), op. 54/2


11. Scherzo, op. 54/5


12. Klokkeklang (Bell ringing), op. 54/6


13. Hemmelighed (Secret), op. 57/4


14. Hun danser (She Dances), op. 57/5


15. Hjemve (Homesickness), op. 57/6


16. Drømmesyn (Phantom), op. 62/5


17. Bryllupsdag på Troldhaugen (Wedding day in Troldhaugen), op. 65/6


18. Aften på højfjellet (Evening in the Mountains), op. 68/4


19. Småtroll (Puck), op. 71/3


20. Skovstilhed (Peace in the Woods), op. 71/4


21. Forbi (Gone), op. 71/6


22. Efterklang (Remembrances), op. 71/7

Budapest Congress Center (9 November, 1993)



Total time: 17:23:37
Sviatoslav Richter - piano

Hungarian State Philharmonic Orchestra
conducted by János Ferencsik (CD 1: 1-3)

Nina Dorliac (CD 3: 14-15)

Production notes:
Selected by Dezső Ránki, pianist
Recordings are property of the archive of the Hungarian Radio
Edited by Márta Papp and Márta Perédi
Digital sound restoration: Zsolt Komesz
Sound engineers: Ferenc Varga (CD 5), Katalin Dobó (CD 5), Péter Winkler (CD 8, CD 9), Péter Schlotthauer (CD 10: 1-10, CD 13, CD 14), Attila Balogh (CD 10: 11-19), Emil Sudár (CD 11), Ferenc Pálvölgyi (CD 12: 1-6), Endre Mosó (CD 12: 7-16)
Recording producers: Tibor Erkel (CD 8, CD 9, CD 10: 17-19, CD 12: 1-6), Sándor Balassa (CD 10: 1-16, CD 11), Péter Aczél (CD 12: 7-16, CD 14), László Matz (CD 13)




Note: For info on Richter's various recordings of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier click here.