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28 AUG 15 The centenary of the tremendous Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter is being marked by a massive 50-CD set this autumn from Melodiya, the old Soviet Union’s iconic state record label. According to this Izvestiya report, it is to include some home audio of his rehearsing and unreleased recordings.
The scale of the edition appears to be impelled chiefly by the robustness of his commercial value to the world music market. The centenary - Richter’s birthday was in March - has already been marked in Europe and the US by some mammoth sets, including a 51-CD box from Decca, Philips and Deutsche Grammophon (Richter recorded with many labels), and an 18-CD set from Sony Classical gathering together the pianist’s sensational American debut tour concerts in 1960.
The Melodiya label was set up by the Soviet government in 1964, after Richter, aged nearly 50 by then, had already been conquering the world for three years. This report does not say whether there are any earlier recordings from the period when Richter was prevented from going abroad, but was building up a tremendous reputation within the USSR as one of the inner circle of exceptional musicians around Shostakovich.
Melodiya’s Richter recordings have already long been obtainable, and some selective centenary sets have already been issued, eg for his 1970s Schubert performances, but the reason for the size of this collection may be the fact that Soviet performers were routinely recorded live on their tours around the huge territory of the USSR. Richter was extremely picky about what recordings he would let out, so one can only guess what he would have felt about home rehearsal tapes being made public.
No price is indicated in the report, which I've translated here.
Home rehearsal tapes included in Richter edition
In October, to celebrate the centenary of Sviatoslav Richter, the Melodiya label will release a collection of audio recordings of his concerts on 50 CDs: Sviatoslav Richter: the centenary edition. It will include previously unpublished recordings of two works played by Richter: Karol Szymanowski’s sonata no 2 in A major, and Franz Liszt’s Concerto Pathétique for two pianos (the first piano part is played by Anton Ginsburg).
As well as the solo works, the collection presents piano concertos and recordings of chamber music with David Oistrakh [violinist], Mstislav Rostropovich [cellist], Oleg Kagan [violinist], Nataliya Gutman [cellist], Yuri Bashmet [violist], and also Nina Dorliak [singer and Richter’s wife], including some unique audio of the musicians’ rehearsal at home.
The PR director for Melodiya, Karina Abramyan, told Izvestiya that there are no similar recordings in the music market.
“In our view, the rarety should appeal to music-lovers and collectors. Work on the restoration and remastering of the audio has been in train for more than six months, since sound quality plays a decisive role for those who love music. And the foreword to the jubilee edition has been written by the famous pianists Dmitri Bashkirov and Vladimir Ashkenazy,” said Abramyan.
Sviatoslav Richter recordings are Melodiya’s best sellers. In 2014, the four-CD box-set Richter plays Schubert topped the ratings of the label’s sales in Europe, Asia and America. And Ludwig van Beethoven, Sviatoslav Richter is consistently among the leading sellers in the vinyl record market.