As promised to donwyn last night here are my impressions of this Doremi set. Where it says first release ever, it means for this performance of this work.
SCHUBERT: Sonata No.9 in B, D.575 First release ever.
BRAHMS: Ballades Op.10/1,2; Piano Pieces, Op.118/1,3,6 First release ever.
CHOPIN: 4 Scherzos: Op.20, Op.31, Op.39, Op.54 (only released before on Doremi)
RAVEL: Oiseaux triste from Miroirs First release ever.
RACHMANINOFF: Prelude, Op.32/12; Etude Tableau, Op.39/3,9 First release everAll performances listed above
from an audience recording from Carnegie Hall, New York, April 15, 1965
SCHUBERT: Sonata No.3 in E, D.459 First release ever. The only version by Richter known to be recorded. From a Live Performance, Hohenems, June 18, 1980
SCHUBERT: Two Impromptus, D.899/3,4 First release ever. (Trovar lists no other performance of No. 3) From a Live Performance, Budapest, August 27, 1967
SCHUBERT: Moment Musical No.1 in C, D.780/1 First release ever. From a Live Performance, Budapest, February 11, 1958
SCHUBERT: March in E, D.606 First release ever. The only version by Richter known to be recorded. From a Live Performance, Moscow, May 3, 1978
Disc one begins with a Schubert sonata that has not been previously released by the pianist, the D 459. That was the main reason I bought this set, it contains a few unique Schubert works that had previously unreleased in any performance by the pianist. The sound was unfortunately a letdown immediately, as the high frequencies are drastically cut. Some of this can be remedied with the treble control, but IMO this is a shame and since the rest of the disc does not suffer this problem, it's puzzling why this one does. The performance was enjoyable, but this isn't one of those monumental Richter interpretations that Richerphiles dream of. Richter sounds younger, more playful than he usually is in Schubert. It is fitting here and he turns in a good performance.
Then we move to the audience recorded Carnegie Hall recital, recorded 15 years prior. Richter's powerful, urgent style is here in spades and so is the upper frequencies in another Schubert sonata performance. The audience recorded sound limits the bass response and the fortes are harsh, but all notes played are clearly audible. Richter's tone shines in many sections, though the health of the audience was terrible, with coughing almost a constant issue throughout.
We then move to the 4 Chopin Scherzos from the same venue, which had been previously released on Doremi, but were included here because a better recording was found of the performance. Richter is electrifying in the fast sections of the Scherzos, with an urgency and forward momentum that I have never heard in these works before. The slower, quieter sections are tender and beautiful. The Ravel that follows is a great complement, with a quiet, mysterious dark mood that is conveyed masterfully. The Rachmaninoff works are good, but surely not his best. Not the wisest was to end this concert.
Then comes some extra performances from different places, beginning with an absolutely stunning G flat Impromptu by Schubert. Trovar does not list any released performances by the pianist of this work, making this one that much more special. Played a bit slower than I have heard it played by anyone, this one (together with the Scherzos) made buying this set worthwhile. The A flat Impromptu by the same composer that follows was good, but certainly not in the same league as the G flat, nor was the Moment Musical or the March in E, which had not been released before by the pianist.
So this one is a mixed bag, as you may have gathered already. For the Scherzos and the G flat Impromptu, this would be a no brainer for any Richterphile, but the price is pretty steep. As I have said, the overall sound is fair at best, so all things considered, I'd say that this set is for the most devoted fans of the pianist only, a group that is not small in number and probably doesn't need my urging anyway.