Nobody played Opus 109 like Richter

Nobody played Opus 109 like Richter


norman lebrecht

March 31, 2019



Live at the Pushkin Museum in 1991, at the age of 76.  In memory of the actor Dmitri Zhuravlyov.


  • Caravaggio says:

    Quite possibly. But Cutner Solomon’s is tied. Hypnotic.

  • Been Here Before says:

    Agree. Have his recording of the last sonatas (part of the Greatest Pianists of the 20the Century) and they are unsurpassed!

  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    Nobody played ANYTHING like Richter. Nobody.

    • Quintus Beckmesser says:

      Any truly great pianist is different from another.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Yes, he was distinctive, but not the best in everything. For my taste his Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Russian music were often truly exceptional, transcendental. But I could live without many of his Mozart or Chopin interpretations.

    • M2N2K says:

      That is a meaningless headline. No human being can ever play anything exactly identical to any other human being. Fortunately. As for Richter, in late Beethoven he was very good indeed. But overall I find him rather overrated by many.

      • Rottweiler says:

        Thank you very much!!! Most composers would laugh at such a foolish debate. Comparing an interpretation is comparing an interpretation is comparing an interpretation … True enough, some of them are better than others but there is nothing like THE one and only. Unless you cannot define exactly (i.e. pinpoint in the score) where all the others went astray your judgement is worthless, and – at the end – insulting to so many important Beethoven players of the past, many of them must be unknown to the Richter “groupies”. The worst in so called Classical Music, and actually one of the most significant symptoms of the decline of its listeners today is the relaunch of “Geschmacksästhetik” and its obvious success.

  • aj says:

    How the opening drags on and on and the sound engineering is awful.But it is Richter so let’s wax poetic
    and read all kinds of nonsense into this banging about.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Proof that LvB invented Boogie Woogie and Jazz long before their official arrival

  • steven holloway says:

    I hope your words do not mean that Richter’s performance was the best. Of course, no one played the work like him. No one played it like Serkin, Kempff, Solomon, Annie Fischer, Schnabel, Arrau…were it otherwise, the term ‘great pianist’ would be empty. Richter played it wonderfully in his way, and so did others.

  • Pedro says:

    My late father has heard live all the great pianists of the 40’s and 50’s except Horowitz and I remember him saying to me that Solomon’s Beethoven was the best for him after Gieseking’s. And he heard Kempff, Backaus, Fischer, Serkin, Arrau playing his sonatas.

    • steven holloway says:

      Solomon was also the first choice of Charles Rosen. And a note to Solomon admirers: four of his concert performances are available, two on APR, two on Tahra. The latter is especially notable for a performance of the Brahms Concerto No. 1 with the BPO under Jochum. There is also a concerto performance with Cantelli (I forget the label that one is on), but the sound is nowhere as good. The BPO one is special, particularly valuable given that his studio performance was marred by intense bad feeling between the orchestra and the conductor. On the APR there is also a gem of a performance of the Beethoven 3 with Beinum and the Concertgebouw; it sits nicely beside his singularly fine studio wartime recording with Boult and the BBSO.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Disagree. Richter was in his absolute prime in the 1950s and 1960s.

    • doremi fasolla says:

      To SUe Sonata Form:Aggreed with your comment on Richter’s playing in the 50s and 60s:the best.
      Talking of the OP 109 OP111:the Leipzig recording of 28-11 1963 is unequalled( to me).

  • bluepumpkin says:

    It’s this kind of talk that really does bring classical music into a certain disrepute: waxing lyrical and hyperbolic about what you take to be the best. The best comment in reply is one made about Jorge Bolet. ”He was not the greatest pianist but he was always my favourite pianist.” I myself would always choose to listen to Alfred Brendel in Beethoven and Jorge Bolet in Liszt before any other pianists …but that’s only my view.

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Nobody played like Richter full stop !!!
    Equalled by few surpassed by none.

  • Viola da Bracchio says:

    In place of all your mushy adjectives and rival superlatives, it would be interesting to hear *precisely* *what* you hear in Richter’s playing which you feel serves the music so well?

    At present you all sound like rather incompetent judges at a Beauty Contest.

  • Claude Frank for me.

  • Stweart says:

    “As well as ” or “in the same way as ” ?

  • Late arrival says:

    Interesting that this is played in “full light” whereas a bedside lamp was the only illumination he used in his last appearances in London which concentrated the audience’s attention marvellously.