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On the piano side, Richter's ebullient, larger than life reading of Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise with its original orchestral accompaniment is coupled in this two CD set with both Liszt concertos and the Hungarian Fantasy, boldly conducted by the estimable Kiril Kondrashin (BBCL 4031). Recorded in concert in 1961, it ranks as one of the late, great Russian pianist's finest moments, a noble performance that is at once relaxed, but also rhythmically taut. Another set, devoted to ethereal interpretations of three Schubert piano sonatas (B major, A major and F minor) again reveals the pianist at the height of his powers, this time in 1979 (BBCL 4010).

Gilels and Richter - BBC Legends CD covers
Gilels and Richter - BBC Legends CD covers

Yesteryear's celebrity pianist Benno Moiseivitsch, a Russian who lived in England for much of his life, offers a most elegant and sinuous reading of Rachmaninoff's evergreen Piano Concerto No 2, as well as Beethoven's Emperor Concerto (BBCL 4074). Emil Gilels, another premier Russian pianist, is heard in a memorable recital of Mozart, Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev in what must have been one of his first concerts in the west in 1957 (BBCL 4015).

I note only the absence from this series of anything by one of England's most well respected foreign émigrés, the remarkable Hungarian born pianist Louis Kentner, who for decades performed frequently on all the major venues in his adopted country, and indeed, around the world. One can only hope that eventually something of his turns up in the archives.

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Copyright © 8 December 2002 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA


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