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The Art of Sviatoslav Richter, tribute by Corrado Grandis

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    Intégrales des interviews: Pianiste Magazine


    Krystian Zimerman, le grand entretien

    Par Bertrand Dermoncourt

    [..]

    intoclassics.net
    B.D.: À vos débuts, vous avez côtoyé les monstres sacrés du piano. Pouvez-vous évoquer ces rencontres ?

    Krystian Zimerman


    "Oui, bien sûr. J'ai eu assez de chance pour vivre l'ère de Michelangeli, Arrau, Richter, Rubinstein, etc. J'ai souvent rendu visite à Rubinstein entre 1976 et, trois jours avant qu'il meure à Genève, en décembre 1982. Nous étions des amis très proches.
    Avec Arrau, j'ai travaillé les concertos et les sonates de Brahms, celles de Beethoven aussi.
    Richter, je lui ai écrit une lettre pour le remercier en tant que pianiste de la jeune génération pour ce qu'il faisait pour nous et la musique. Il m'a répondu. Nous nous sommes rencontrés avec nos épouses respectives à Paris. Puis nous avons eu l'envie de monter un festival ensemble au Japon. Mais ce projet n'a jamais vu le jour et il est décédé.
    Guilels, je l'ai rencontré plusieurs fois en Europe de l'Ouest, à Copenhague, à Stockholm, en Finlande à Helsinki en 1976 (c'était notre première rencontre), à Los Angeles, etc. J'ai eu la chance de jouer pour lui, d'écouter ses conseils. Je le respectais beaucoup.
    Michelangeli était très intéressant pour moi car j'ai voulu être son accordeur. Je pensais que, si je voyageais tout le temps avec lui, il n'aurait plus à annuler ses concerts ! Michelangeli a été formé par une personne nommée Cesare Augusto Tallone, un génie absolu du piano, un fabuleux accordeur, que j'ai aussi eu la chance de rencontrer. Cela a été une très bonne expérience pour moi. Nous parlions du piano comme d'un ami, qui est parfois malade et qu'il faut parfois soigner. Michelangeli m'a fait un très beau compliment à propos de mes Préludes de Debussy que je ne peux pas répéter ici sans rougir. J'étais fasciné par lui. C'est peut-être l'un des pianistes les plus honnêtes que j'aie jamais rencontrés."

    [..]





    Denis Matsuev: un pianiste so russe !

    Par Propos recueillis par Stéphane Friédérich

    [..]

    S.F.: Vous rappelez-vous le premier récital auquel vous avez assisté ?

    Denis Matsuev

    "Ce fut à Irkoutsk. J'entendais pour la première fois Sviatoslav Richter. Je garde encore en mémoire la sonorité de ses Variations Paganini de Brahms et l'atmosphère assez inquiétante du lieu : une seule petite lumière sur le pupitre du piano éclairait la partition. Et savez-vous pourquoi je m'en souviens aussi bien alors que j'étais très jeune ? C'est tout simplement parce qu'il rejoua ces Variations en "bis" ! Incroyable. À l'issue du concert, j'ai dit à mes parents que je voulais faire le même métier."

    [..] 




    Alexander Melnikov, "La culture a pris une place secondaire dans notre société"

    Par Stéphane Friédérich


    [..]

    S.F.: Parmi toutes les personnalités que vous avez côtoyées, une d’entre elles tient une place particulière : Sviatoslav Richter…

    Alexander Melnikov

    "Comment caractériser Richter… Pour moi, il était une véritable montagne ! Je n’ai jamais été son élève. Pourtant, je l’ai beaucoup suivi, j’ai joué pour lui. Comme Bruno Monsaingeon le montre dans la biographie qu’il lui a consacrée [Écrits, conversations, Ed. Van de Velde, ndlr], il était bien davantage qu’un pianiste. Quand vous êtes très jeune et que vous jouez devant une telle personnalité, vous êtes soumis à une autorité écrasante. Mais ce que j’ai appris, c’est en lui faisant la tourne durant une série de récitals en Espagne. Il s’arrêtait dans des villages et jouait pour des gens qui n’avaient jamais entendu du Beethoven ou du Haydn. Son charisme était tel qu’il hypnotisait le public et moi avec ! Il m’est arrivé d’être paralysé, incapable de tourner les pages. Je me rappelle les passages exacts durant lesquels j’ai éprouvé cette sensation unique. Je regrette de ne pas avoir profité davantage de sa présence. J’étais beaucoup trop jeune."


    [..]



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    THE LISTENER 
    Vol. 85
    British Broadcasting Corporation, 1971

    Profile 

    excerpt
    "Rostropovich and Richter" 
    by Konstantin Bazarov


     ______________________________


    PHOTO by Mikhail Ozerskiy
    The central events of the recent tour of Russia by the London Symphony Orchestra were two concerts conducted by Benjamin Britten which included his own Piano Concerto and Cello Symphony. For these he had pulled off something of a musico-diplomatic coup by managing to borrow two of Russia's outstanding performers, the pianist Svyatoslav Richter and the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, with both of whom he had already established a close relationship over the last decade, both in the intimate atmosphere of the Aldeburgh Festival where he has partnered Richter in piano duets, and on his own visits to the Soviet Union. Britten has often been inspired by the direct and concrete challenge of writing for a particular artist, and his 1961 Cello Sonata and the 1964 Cello Symphony were both composed specially for Rostropovich. The cellist has described his first meeting with Britten when he was in London to give a concert in 1960: After the concert the artists' room was full of people. I tried to guess which one of them was Britten. I remember how I attacked Britten there and then and pleaded most sincerely and passionately with him to write something for the cello he replied that we'd have to talk it over in greater detail Honestly, I did not expect a reply so simple and yet so serious. On the following day the three of us — Britten, Rozhdestvensky and I . — met at the Prince of Wales Hotel. In the artists' room I had felt the full, attractive force, the spiritual purity and superlative charm of this great man. But after this second meeting Rozhdestvensky and I recalled for many days every detail of our conversation; we were under the spell of Britten's exceptional magnetism. We decided at this meeting of ours that if Britten wrote a Sonata for 'cello he would send it to me in Moscow and it would be first performed in public at the Aldeburgh Festival of 1961. After my return [to Russial I patiently waited for the music. ' Patiently ' is not the word. The wait was actually painful. It seemed endless, I so wanted to play Britten's music. A few months later I was called to the telephone: a parcel with the music from Britain ! I'm sure I broke all records for the 880 yards for cellists. When I returned I made a dash for my cello, locked myself in and went at that sonata. It was a case of love at first sight. I was astounded: the music resembled no other piece of chamber music I knew. This whole story is very characteristic of the irrepressible Rostropovich, who has an insatiable thirst for new music, so that there is hardly a Soviet composer of any stature who has not at some time responded to his request to write something for him to play. The cello was otherwise an instrument which had been neglected by Russian composers, the only significant pre-Soviet work for it being Tchaikovsky's Variations on a Rococo Theme, an elegant and witty Mozartian work which also owed its origin to the composer's friendship with a noted cellist. But from the late Forties onward Rostropovich has been responsible for a tremendous body of Russian cello literature. He was born in 1927 in Baku, an oil port on the Caspian Sea which is also the capital of the Azerbaijan Republic. He came from a musical family, being taught the piano by his mother and the cello by his father, a former pupil of Casals. While still a student in Moscow he had his first major success when in 1945 he won first prize in a nation-wide competition. He then approached the aging composer Gliere, best- known for his ballets such as The Red Poppy, who had, however, already written a concerto for harp and another for wordless soprano voice, and now followed these with a cello concerto specially written for Rostropovich, who gave it its first performance in 1947. But the years in which Rostropovich was reaching musical maturity were also the last years of Stalin's reign, when all the arts were once more coming under pressure from the old tyrant's cultural henchman, Zhdanov. In 1948 the Communist Party published its notorious decree on modern music, which denounced Prokofiev, Shostakovich and other composers for the ' wrong path ' they had taken. Prokofiev, who already had to contend with failing health (he died on the same day as Stalin), became the victim of a furious witch-hunt, but among his most ardent supporters were Rostropovich and Richter, who together gave the first performance, late in 1949, of the sonata for cello and piano that the composer had written for them. While still a student in Moscow he had his first major success when in 1945 he won first prize in a nation-wide competition. He then approached the aging composer Gliere, best- known for his ballets such as The Red Poppy, who had, however, already written a concerto for harp and another for wordless soprano voice, and now followed these with a cello concerto specially written for Rostropovich, who gave it its first performance in 1947. But the years in which Rostropovich was reaching musical maturity were also the last years of Stalin's reign, when all the arts were once more coming under pressure from the old tyrant's cultural henchman, Zhdanov. In 1948 the Communist Party published its notorious decree on modern music, which denounced Prokofiev, Shostakovich and other composers for the ' wrong path ' they had taken. Prokofiev, who already had to contend with failing health (he died on the same day as Stalin), became the victim of a furious witch-hunt, but among his most ardent supporters were Rostropovich and Richter, who together gave the first performance, late in 1949, of the sonata for cello and piano that the composer had written for them. Like Rostropovich, Richter also comes from a musical family. He was born in 1914 in the Ukrainian town of Zhitomir, but moved at an early age to the Black Sea port of Odessa, a city with a great musical tradition where his father taught at the Conservatoire. Richter was interested in all the arts — his hobby is still painting — and in his twenties he worked as a coach in the Odessa Opera Theatre, before going to Moscow to study the piano under Heinrich Neuhaus. When he was 12 Richter had attended a recital given by Prokofiev during his first brief trial return to Russia in 1927, and after the composer's final return from his self-imposed exile in the Thirties Richter had developed into the supreme exponent of his piano music. The Cello Sonata was followed by Richter giving in 1951 the delayed premiere of Prokofiev's Ninth Piano Sonata, at a gala evening to celebrate the composer's 60th birthday. Though it was not until 1959, six years after Prokofiev's death, that the decree on modern music was withdrawn by Khrushchev as erroneous, Stalin had meanwhile changed tack and awarded Prokofiev a Stalin Prize. Shortly after this Richter made his debut as a conductor when he once more joined forces with Rostropovich to give the first performance of Prokofiev's Second Cello Concerto. The cellist spent two summers staying at Prokofiev's country house helping him to revise this work, which was finally rewritten as the Sinfonia Concertante. The Richter started to travel outside Eastern Europe. When he did finally make a ten-week eoast- to-coast tour of the United States in 1960 he was preceded by an almost legendary reputation, built up from records and from the reports of those who had heard him in Russia. Despite his enormous technical mastery, Richter is not in the ordinary sense a virtuoso.

    [..]


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  • 05/22/14--23:21: Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (cit.)
  • Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

    interviewed by Willem Boone




    extrait

    [..]

    (Willem Boone)
    Pendant qu’on y est : que pensez-vous du Haydn de Richter ? N’est-ce pas la proverbiale main de fer dans un gant de velours ?

    Jean-Efflam Bavouzet

    "Ah oui, c’était la révélation quand il a joué trois sonates de Haydn à son festival à Tours. J’étais avec ma femme et la mère de Martha Argerich.

    (WB)
    Qui n’était pas une personne très facile...

    "Non, elle s’est fâchée, car elle trouvait impossible de faire venir les gens de Paris pour un programme qui ne comprenait que trois sonates de Haydn ! Mais on a été tellement nourri : on avait entendu tellement de choses dans son Haydn, on croyait même y entendre d’autres compositeurs : Brahms, Stravinsky... Elle était ravie à la fin. Cependant, mon approche de Haydn a changé depuis. Il me manquerait les ornements et une certaine liberté dans la lecture de Richter, sa manière de jouer est très austère, mais c’est lui qui m’a fait prendre conscience que Haydn est un grand compositeur !

    [..]

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  • 05/30/14--03:48: Jean-Bernard Pommier (quote)
  • Jean-Bernard Pommier
    pianist and conductor

    Quote from an interview (2011)

    [..]

    In several interviews you mentioned that you had the chance to know some of your IDOLS.

    "For pianists in my generation there were three very important role-models; being young, being contemporary with some outstanding piano figures, I had the opportunity to know such outstanding personalities, not only by their musical status, but as people. I knew quite well Sviatoslav Richter, Arturo Benedetti Michelangelli and Rudolf Serkin. I think I'm not the only one considering this when I say that there are three very special personalities, with a decisive role in reading piano repertoire by the poignancy of their options and their instrumental mastery that influenced an entire generation, as it was my case."
     
    Radio Romania Muzical

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    Denis Matsuev 
    "...quel ghiaccio improvvisamente si sciolse"



    [..]

    Lei avrà assistito a decine di concerti al Ciaikovski Concert Hall. Ce n'e qualcuno di cui serba memoria indelebile?

    "Quanti ne ho sentiti da studente, in piedi, in loggione! Uno davvero storico fu con Richter. Lui entro' in scena, sala completamente buia, una lucina soltanto a rischiarare lo spartito. Richter si sedette davanti alla tastiera e fisso', per un minuto che sembro' infinito, il piano e le pagine della Sonata 1] di Liszt che aveva di fronte. Pubblico immobile, silenzio di ghiaccio che ci opprimeva il cuore. Ma improvvisamente Richter tocco' il primo Sol della Sonata: quel ghiaccio improvvisamente si sciolse e tutti tirammo il fiato, quasi fossimo stati liberati da un peso angoscioso."

    [..]


     


    1] NOTA: Molto probabilmente Matsuev confonde la Sonata di Liszt con un'altra composizione. Essendo lui nato nel 1975, e sapendo che Richter non la suonò che negl'anni '60, è presumibile possa trattarsi della Sonata in Sol magg. D.894 di Schubert (molto suonata anche nel 1989) o di qualche altro pezzo. Certamente il silenzio e l'attesa prima dell'inizio era un attenzione che Richter riservava anche a Schubert,  oltre ad un coup de theatre mirato a raccogliere l'attenzione del pubblico. Da un precedente post pubblicato nel Blog sappiamo inoltre che il primo ascolto di Richter di Matsuev risale a Irkousk, con le Variazioni Paganini di Brahms (1986-1988), ed il faretto posto ad illuminare il leggìo fu una costante degl'anni 80-'90.  C.G.

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    Gian Carlo Menotti
    (1911-2007) 

    ...a Spoleto (1967)


    Al Festival di Spoleto (1967)
    ...Un altro giorno, guardo dalla finestra, e chi vedo in piazza? Il pianista Sviatoslav Richter (n.dr.: Festival 1967; 14 luglio,* vedi commento). Scendo, e gli faccio: 

     - "Ma che cosa fa a Spoleto?"
     - "Sono venuto a vedere, perché ho sentito di  questa città che si sta facendo conoscere nel mondo".
     - "Già che è qua, perché non suona per noi?."
     - "Va bene. Quando?."
     - "Fra venti minuti, abbiamo un concerto: cambio il programma, e lei suona!". 
    E ha detto:
     - "Bene, con piacere". 
     - "Io però non ho soldi per pagarla!".
     - "No, no. Io non voglio essere pagato: per Spoleto, suono gratis, basta che il consolato russo non lo sappia!". (ride) 

    Perché tutti i soldi, li doveva dare all'ambasciata. E non solo ha suonato quel giorno lì, ma poi è rimasto un altro giorno, e ha fatto un intero concerto gratis.
     

    "Io, Menotti: due zanzare a Yester House" di Gian Carlo Menotti, Thomas Migge, Franco Soda - De Luca, 2007 - 191 pagine. Snippets Google Books. Si legga qui la recensione del CD - relativo al concerto del 14 Luglio* - pubblicato nel 2010 e recensito nel Blog da Giorgio Ceccarelli-Paxton. LINK

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     1960. Intoclassics.net
    Novosti Press Agency, 1967
    from

    MISSIONARY OF THE BEAUTIFUL


    From recitals he comes home dogweary, his shirt and swallowtails wet through with sweat. Physical weariness, though, gives him no worry, he is always glad to have the opportunity of slimming. He sits down to supper. He is not fastidious about his food and is horrified by all the dishes plied upon him at sundry dinners given in his honour. He cannot stand these long formal rituals where people seem desirous merely of killing time. He has no time. Music consumes his every moment. Richter is fond of travelling — that, to him, may mean a journey to Naples or a weekend picnic out of town.

    [..]
     
    On his travels and in life generally he keeps more to himself, but not so much as to remain aloof when interference is necessary. One day, he happened to spot a drunk in a railway station buffet pestering the waitress. He caught him up by the scruff of the neck and threw him bodily through the doorway. He gripped him so hard he fractured the tip of a finger. It was a nasty fracture, and it was a miracle that it grew together without untoward consequences. Richter returns from a distant tour of Canada and Europe to spend two months giving recitals in the USSR and then again leave, this time for London. He serves art ever on the go. One person well familiar with Richter told me. "He is a kulturtraeger in the best sense. He definitely has a passion for introducing this and educating that." On March 20, 1967 People's Artist of the USSR Svyatoslav Richter, a Lenin Prize Winner, turned 53. But that doesn't slow him down. As always, every two or three days, he sits down at the piano in one or another concert hall to again create for an entranced audience. It is said Richter has set himself a retirement date. He could not tolerate a Richter who would ever play worse than Richter. However, today he is still at the keys, and again, as yesterday and as tomorrow, people will argue, wondering who he really is, classicist or romanticist, thinker or poet, and who is his composer, Beethoven or Prokofiev. Chuck out the "or", that little word, which shortens the great and insert "and" everywhere instead a man can do nothing. But reality has many faces.
     
    [..]

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    Quote

    Inna Heifetz, pianist

    "I grew up with him as my idol: he was it. I will never forget the first time I heard him. On TV. I was stunned for several days. I know that I will never play Beethoven's op. 2, no. 1 or op. 10, no. 3, because his performance is imprinted on my mind. The interpretation would be his, not mine. Richter came from Odessa. His family suffered from the war there, and he swore never to come back. Everyone came to Odessa but Richter. "

    When Heifetz was in Moscow, Richter was not playing there. Later she went to France to hear him — the friend she depended on neglected to get tickets.

    An Interview With Inna Heifetz BY MICHAEL ULLMAN, Fanfare vol.18, 1995.

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    "I won a competition with Richter..."

    from "A salute to Slava - With more than 240 world premieres to his name, Mstislav Rostropovich is one of music's titans. As he turns 80, he shares his memories with Tully Potter". Gramophone April 2007


    Recalling how effortlessly he accompanied his wife Galina Vishnevskaya in Rachmaninov songs - recently reissued by DG - I ask him the width of his hand- spread on the piano.
     
    "I won a competition with Richter," he says proudly, leaping over to the Bosendorfer grand and demonstrating a left-hand chord. "You know how big Richter's hands were, but Richter could only play it on the black notes - I can play it on the white notes."
     
    The walls of the living room where we talk are covered with impressive oil portraits, including an unfinished one by Serov of the last Tsar, Nicholas II.
     
    "All Russians," says the Maestro with an expansive gesture, indicating that he is in a home from home. As I produce my notebook, explaining that I am an old- fashioned journalist, he counters with: "And I am an old-fashioned musician."

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    Stefano Catucci 




    Richter su Anna Karenina

    ...Una volta incontrai Sviatoslav Richter, avrei dovuto intervistarlo e invece assistetti a un suo straordinario discorso su Anna Karenina, in particolare sulle osservazioni che Tolstoj, per bocca del personaggio Levin, dedica all'antropologia del lavoratore russo, e anzitutto del contadino. Se Lenin avesse tenuto a mente le ammonizioni di Tolstoj, mi disse Richter, la storia sarebbe andata diversamente...


    da Conversazione tra Giorgio Battistelli e Stefano Catucci - chigiana.it (numero unico 2009), 66a settimana musicale senese

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    Settembre 1991
    dall'Archivio Storico de "L'Unità"

    Concerto a Pompei

    _____________________





    L'Unità - Archivio Storico

    Recensione: 

    Erasmo Valente
    "Richter chiude in bellezza"
    PANATENEE
    L'Unità giovedì 19 settembre 1991
    (concerto del 14 settembre)

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    Anna Ivanovna Trojanovskaja
    1885-1977, painter

    1940'

    excerpt from
    "Sviatoslav Richter at the piano"
    Soviet Documentary 1968


    _____


    Transl. by Zsolt Bognar 

    concert pianist



    [..] Anna Trojanovskaja. She first met him in 1942. Anna is shown in her house.

    AT:

    ”Such was the situation at the time that Richter had no piano or place to practice, so I offered him, ‘If you find that my piano is okay, go ahead.’”

    [In later years this is where Richter would always practice, instead of in his own apartment.] 
    The piano, a C.Bechstein, is shown, complete with its cracked pedal.
    Narrator: ”This is the room where Richter went to practice and this is the piano he used.” 

    AT:

    ”It was during the war. Sometimes, together we would get Irish potatoes and put them on the stove and boil them for a meal. It was so cold that the fire would sometimes die out, it was so small. In addition, the fire was our source of light. ”

    ”Slava practiced so compulsively that I thought he didn’t know the meaning of fatigue. This is one painting that I did of him.”

    A painting by Anna of Richter at the piano is shown.

    AT:

    ”This shows the movement of his fingers as they flew over the keys. I put a lot of effort into capturing this moment of Richter at the piano.”

    ”One day when he was completely accustomed to my house, he arrived with a bandaged hand. Immediately he got bored because he couldn’t play. I recall even now what he said to me at that time. From age 8 or 9, he drew pictures and then there was a time he thought he wanted to be a painter. He was confused whether to pursue painting or music.” 

    A portrait of Richter as a painter. 

    AT:

    “So I tried giving him some pastels and some drawing paper. It didn’t seem he had much experience with landscape sceneries.” 

    Anna displays a house/window painting done by Richter. 

    AT:

    ”Here is a unique painting that he did here in my house. It’s wonderful. You could almost see a developing ‘Sviatoslav’ style, and that was the interesting thing about it.” 

    Anna displays various Richter paintings. 

    ”There is a painting of a mountain behind her as she puts his works on a rack. There is one of Russian buildings by night, and a Russian church scene. There is a striking painting of buildings in Moscow."

    AT:

    ”A perspective painting: the accent, the space, the method. In short, as far as painting, I thought the completed technique was there. Tone, shades, details. The sense was excellent.” 

    A village street scene is shown, followed by a dance painting. 

    AT:

    ”This painting represents his instinct about movement. This sense is essential to a musician. But as for me, this here is my favorite.” 

    Displays another painting. 

    AT:

    ”This was done after he returned from a local recital. From the window he spotted this winter scene of two trees against the winter colors and the snow. These are wonderful expressions of memories of that time.” 

    Another portrait of Richter as a painter. 

    AT:

    “The expression of memories is the wonderful power of imagination. I always think about Slava. He would not have been able to bring out these elements in his music had he not had the ability to do all this.”


    Z.B


     
     Part 2/6: from 5'16''  ... 



    "...Egli aveva dei concetti sullo spazio, sulla lontananza, sulla prospettiva che quasi sembravano elaborati da lui stesso, mentre aveva eccellenti il senso del tono e del colore. La cosa più sorprendente in lui – è l'istinto del movimento... Dipingeva esclusivamente a memoria sulla base dell'impressione. Aveva una memoria fenomenale. E anche l'immaginazione" - ricordava la pittrice moscovita Anna Ivanovna Trojanoskaja, allieva di Serov, di Pasternak [Pasternak padre, ndt.] e di Matisse, appassionata ammiratrice di El Greco, dalla quale il giovane Sviatoslav Richter non solo studiava sul pianoforte di Medtner, ma anche prese per un certo periodo lezioni di pittura. 

     « Musejon: La Casa di Richter » di Ljudmila Krenkel' e Rita Weber. Traduzione italiana di Valerij Voskobojnikov. Rev. di Giorgio Ceccarelli Paxton.

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  • 06/17/14--12:54: Alexei Volodin
  • Alexei Volodin
    ( l'esempio di Richter )

    
    Alexei Volodin. Foto di Marco Borggreve 

    In un'intervista rilasciata nel novembre 2011 alla MariinskyTV ebbe a dichiarare:
     
    "Se cerchi deliberatamente di essere un pianista diverso dagli altri fallisci; devi vivere ogni opera per se stessa e fare ciò che la musica ti dice.
    Come disse Richter, devi essere "lo specchio del compositore".
    Questo richiede molto impegno ma quando ci riesci sei automaticamente diverso dagli altri perché sei tu che stai suonando, è la tua anima, il tuo senso del tempo, il tuo tocco, il tuo fraseggio e così via..."
     
    Sistema Musica, Apr.2014. "L'Orchestra RAI e Alexei Volodin al Festival di Monte-Carlo", di Daniela Gangale.

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  • 06/19/14--14:15: Leif Ove Andsnes (quote)
  • Leif Ove Andsnes
    Quote, from Newsday Inc. 2005


     "I had a period when I couldn't listen to anyone else. I was in love with his sound. He was such a gigantic personality, and there was so much about him that was so intriguing. When I was about 20, I wanted to play like him, and I still think of him as a great artist." 

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    Valery Gergiev

    "You have to put Parsifal on stage" 
    (Richter) 

    [..]

    While Mravinsky influenced the spirit of Gergiev's art, Sviatoslav Richter guided the evolution of his repertoire. Conductor and pianist worked together in the latter's final years. Richter saw Gergiev conduct Beethoven's Eroica Symphony on Soviet television in 1993 and let it be known that he wanted to work with him. The request, recalls Gergiev, came as a shock. The 'enigmatic and mysterious artist' was, after all, a living legend, justifiably hailed by Shostakovich as an extraordinary phenomenon.

    "We met five or six times to talk before we performed together. I was so thrilled and in such disbelief that Richter would even talk to me in person. We discussed many things, including Wagner's Parsifal. I had very little knowledge of this opera at the time; I knew Lohengrin and parts of Die Meistersinger and Tannhäuser. But I did not know then that Parsifal would one day play such a big part in my life. It was Richter who told me: "You have to put Parsifal on stage".

    Despite Richter's dread of flying, he travelled by plane from Moscow to Japan for a concert engagement with Gergiev. It proved to be their final meeting before the pianist's death in 1997.

    "He did not take this flight lightly,” Gergiev recalls. “He got sick but was strong enough for us to have lunch. We talked and talked about so many things. Maybe he sensed it was our last discussion. He told me I should conduct Prokofiev'Semyon Kotko and Cantata for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution. And again Richter insisted that I should conduct Parsifal. And I did. I have been very lucky to conduct Parsifal many times with the Mariinsky, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, with the Vienna Philharmonic. But it was in our new Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg where this piece came to miraculous life for me in 2009.”

    [..]


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    Bruno Monsaingeon 

    (extr. de interview, tutti-magazine 2013)


    [..]

    Philippe Banel: Filmer Glenn Gould était sans doute très différent...
     
    (Bruno Monsaingeon)

    Avec Gould, pour les premiers films que nous avons tournés, les échanges de propos sont totalement spontanés dans un cadre qui, lui, est totalement scénarisé et mis en scène. Mais pour les films consacrés à Bach, les choses ont été différentes dans la mesure où, en raison d'un mal à l'épaule, il a annulé durant 3 ans toutes les séances de tournage que nous avions prévues. Mais une fois par mois, j'allais à Toronto pour le retrouver et nous avons pondu les textes ensemble. Nous les avons ensuite appris comme des comédiens pour le dire comme des comédiens. Dans ce cas, on aboutit bien sûr au sommet du contrôle. Mais Gould était aussi un formidable acteur et son génie a apporté au film une spontanéité extraordinaire.

    Et avec Sviatoslav Richter ?

    Avec Richter ce ne pouvait qu'être improvisé. Sur les milliers d'heures de tournage, la plupart du temps, on m'entend parler mais il ne sort rien. Richter était alors très dépressif. De plus, il se montrait totalement innocent par rapport à la caméra. Lorsque nous étions à Antibes et que nous allions dîner, nous suivions ses instructions car il connaissait par cœur toute la côte et décidait toujours du restaurant dans lequel nous irions. Je me souviens très bien d'un soir où Richter était très en verve malgré sa fatigue. Il me demande s'il m'a bien raconté l'histoire de la Symphonie No. 9 de Shostakovich. Il m'en avait parlé à Paris lorsque nous avions travaillé avec seulement un magnétophone. Mais il me raconte à nouveau comment il déchiffrait le manuscrit au côté de Shostakovich, puis le compositeur prend peur au retour de sa femme. Shostakovich avait alcoolisé Richter à coups de cognac. Richter tombe dans le caniveau en plein hiver à Moscou et reste dans cette situation, comme un clochard, jusqu'à 5 heures du matin. Il finit par se réveiller et file chez les Neuhaus. Madame Neuhaus l'accueille et lui donne à boire du vin ! Il restera au final pendant deux jours sous le piano pour cuver ce qu'il a ingurgité… Il me raconte donc cette histoire extraordinaire et je lui demande d'attendre le lendemain afin de poursuivre devant la caméra. Le lendemain, je lui demande s'il peut me raconter l'histoire de la symphonie de Shostakovich, et il me regarde comme si j'étais le dernier des crétins, et me répond : "Mais je vous en ai parlé hier !". Avec Richter, tout était forcément différent…
    [..]

    Votre carrière cinématographique est jalonnée de rencontres riches et sans doute déterminantes. Y a-t-il cependant des rendez-vous manqués ou des rencontres espérées qui ne se sont pas produites ?
     
    Oui, Carlos Kleiber. Il a déjà fait l'objet de deux films allemands. Je les ai vus et ils m'ont horrifié car ils ne traitent en rien de la grandeur du personnage. Cette façon d'expédier un tel sujet pour entrer dans les formats imposés par la télévision est insupportable ! On est ici bien loin du miracle dont j'ai bénéficié pour Richter. Un projet rendu possible grâce à mes producteurs qui l'ont soutenu en dépit de monstrueuses difficultés, mais aussi grâce à Gabrielle Babin, Chargée de programme pour Arte, qui a compris l'objet du film, lequel n'était certes pas de rentrer dans des cases. Il s'agissait de faire le film sur Richter et son format, sa durée, seraient définis par moi en fonction de mes ambitions. Malheureusement, la télévision est devenue incapable de gérer de telles perspectives. J'espère toutefois pouvoir faire quelque chose sur Kleiber. Nous ne nous sommes jamais rencontrés mais nous avons échangé pas mal de correspondance. Cet échange extraordinaire est en fait lié à Richter car j'avais demandé à Carlos Kleiber de faire le doublage de la voix de Richter pour satisfaire à la demande des Allemands. J'avais envoyé cette demande à Kleiber par lettre et il m'a répondu de façon foudroyante : "Je n'ai pas vu votre film, je vis avec. Quant à faire le doublage de cette voix, ce serait criminel…". Et de rajouter en français, "Et ce serait 100 % casse-pieds !". Nous avons entretenu ensuite une relation épistolaire jusqu'au jour où il s'est senti piégé. Cette relation s'est alors terminée par un silence total après qu'il m'ait dit : "Je suis un kapellmeister à la retraite et je souhaite mourir sans que mon nom n'apparaisse sur aucun livre, aucun film, aucun disque". Mais j'espère bien un jour pouvoir réaliser un film sur lui malgré l'obstacle majeur qui se présente en dehors des problèmes de droits…




    Propos recueillis par Philippe Banel (22 octobre 2013). Lien:
    tutti-magazine.fr


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    "N  e  w   R  e  l  e  a  s  e  s"                         (Novità Audio/Video)
    L     e          R     e     c     e     n     s     i     o     n    i

    Registrazioni audio e video di recente pubblicazione recensite dal blog
    A cura di Giorgio Ceccarelli Paxton


    Luglio 2014



     XXIV






    LEGENDARY RUSSIAN PERFORMANCES 
    Concert in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory - 4 aprile 1949


    Poche ma notevolissime uscite nel secondo trimestre di quest’anno.

    L’etichetta russa Aquarius (http://www.aquarius-classic.ru) ci aveva già proposto qualche tempo fa su AQUARIUS AQVR 358-2 il bel concerto di Richter del 30 maggio 1949 a Mosca (vedi recensione su questo blog).
    Ora esce un interessante documento storico (AQVR 386-2) in cui, oltre ad altri importanti artisti sovietici, è presente anche Sviatoslav Richter in tre esecuzioni di brani di Rachmaninov.
    Il concerto fu eseguito il 4 aprile 1949 in memoria del famoso e grandissimo pedagogo KONSTANTIN IGUMNOV, uno dei fondatori, insieme a Goldenweiser e Neuhaus, della scuola russa del pianoforte.


    Konstantin Nikolaevič Igumnov (1873-1948) studiò a Mosca con Pavel Pabst,  maestro oltre che di Aleksandr Goedike e di Nikolaj Medtner anche di Goldenweiser. Vinse il premio Rubinstein nel 1895 insegnando nei due anni successivi a Mosca, poi a Tiflis e ancora a Mosca in cui fu direttore del Conservatorio dal 1924 al 1929. Egli fu importante oltre che come insegnante anche come concertista soprattutto per la sua straordinaria paletta timbrica, melodiosa e piena di ritmo.
    Le sue esecuzioni erano molto intimistiche e il suo modo di insegnare richiamava questo aspetto unitamente ad una grande signorilità. Era un vero intellettuale, nonostante la nascita in una piccola città di provincia, Lebedjan, nel sud della Russia. Usava dire di se stesso: “Posso dire che non ero interessato solo alla musica. Ciò che mi commuoveva era la natura, l’arte e i sentimenti morali e religiosi”.
    Igumnov insegnò al Conservatorio per quasi mezzo secolo, avendo in totale più di 500 studenti che, nonostante le ovvie diversità, avevano in comune una cosa: un atteggiamento romantico verso la musica, affinchè – per usare le parole di Igumnov – “la musica risuoni come un linguaggio umano in cui siano scritti poemi, storie e versi. Il compito degli esecutori è quello di recitare questi poemi e questi versi”.
    Tra i suoi allievi più famosi figurano Lev Oborin, Jakov Flier, Rosa Tamarkina e Marja Grinberg.


    Konstantin Nikolaevič Igumnov
    La caratteristica del cd che stiamo presentando è che gli esecutori non furono discepoli di Igumnov, come in altri concerti tenuti in sua memoria, ma artisti provenienti da altra preparazione pedagogica, segno questo della enorme stima che circondava Igumnov, a prescindere dall’estrazione storica dei singoli artisti.
    Il concerto si declinò in due parti con diversi artisti coinvolti

    Prima parte
    1. Bach - Prelude
    2. Bach - Fugue in g minor BWV 578
    3. Rachmaninov - Trio élégiaque No.2 in d minor "In memory of a great artist" op.9            
    4. Liszt - Aux cyprès de la Villa d'Este
    5. Rachmaninov - Prelude in g sharp minor Op. 32, № 12
    6. Rachmaninov - Melody in E major Op. 3, № 3

    Seconda parte
    7. Rachmaninov - In the silence of the secret night
    8. Rachmaninov  - Oh no, I beg you, do not leave
    9. Rachmaninov  - How much it hurts
    10. Čaikovskij - Not a word, my friend
    11. Čaikovskij  - Mild stars shone down on us star
    12. Čaikovskij - The fearful minute
    13. Čaikovskij - None but the lonely heart
    14. Čaikovskij - Serenade ("Oh, child...")

    Questi furono gli interpreti:

    Alexander Goedicke, organ (1, 2)
    Lev Oborin (piano), David Oistrakh (violin), Svyatoslav Knushevitsky (cello) (3)
    Sviatoslav Richter, piano (4-6)
    Pavel Lisitsian, baritone (7-9), Nadezhda Obukhova, mezzo-soprano (10-14)
    Matvey Sakharov, piano (7-14)
    Presenter - Valentina Solovyeva

    Al netto dell’interesse storico che tutte queste esecuzioni propongono, vi è il “nostro” Sviatoslav Richter con i “suoi” inimitabili Liszt e Rachmaninov, che, benché limitato ad una quindicina di minuti complessivi, mostra e conferma quale formidabile artista già era in quegli anni e sarebbe poi definitivamente diventato. Da notare che i tre brani qui presentati sono nuovi alla discografia richteriana, in quanto finora circolanti solo su registrazioni private di collezionisti (del brano di Liszt è disponibile solo una registrazione del 1956). Ulteriore elemento questo, oltre alla caratura artistica degli altri interpreti, per solleticare l’interesse per questa produzione.


     
    S. RICHTER  - BEETHOVEN – MOZART – VISTA VERA VVCD 00255

    Ancora una ottima produzione di questa etichetta di origine russa che ci presenta il quinto cd praticamente dedicato a Sviatoslav Richter (per i precedenti vedere le recensioni su questo blog). La menzione “volume 3” fa ben sperare in altre pubblicazioni richteriane in futuro.
    Molto interessante questo disco che contiene due Sonate di Beethoven e un Concerto di Mozart.
    Cominciamo dal Concerto nr.20 in re minore KV 466 di Mozart nella esecuzione moscovita del 18 maggio 1958 con Karl Eliasberg alla guida dell’Orchestra Sinfonica della Filarmonica di Mosca. Questa esecuzione del KV 466 (concerto che Richter eseguì moltissime volte con diversi direttori tra cui quelle con Sanderling, Kondrashin, Wislocki sono uscite in registrazioni più o meno ufficiali) è stata commercializzata, nell’era del cd, solo dalla Brilliant Classic (nel BRILLIANT SET 9199) . In precedenza era uscita sull’isolato lp francese DISQUE CLUB DU NOUVEAU SIECLE DCNS 801, sul quale però nutro seri dubbi che il direttore fosse Eliasberg.
    Ciò che però è assolutamente nuovo in questo cd è l’esecuzione delle Sonate beethoveniante nr.7 op.10 nr.3 in Re maggiore e nr.18 op.31 nr.3 in Mi bemolle maggiore da Mosca 1 aprile 1960, esecuzione che non era mai precedentemente uscita nemmeno tra le registrazioni amatoriali possedute dai collezionisti. Fra l’altro queste incisioni sono le prime che abbiamo dal punto di vista cronologico, in quanto di queste Sonate, che Richter eseguì moltissime volte e che tenne in repertorio per tutta la vita, avevamo finora esecuzioni dal 1965 in poi fino al 1992 ma nessuna così lontana nel tempo.
    Quindi un disco molto molto interessante, da ascoltare con attenzione,  plaudendo all’iniziativa della label russa, della quale consiglio di visionare il catalogo. (http://www.vistavera.com/index.php), ricco di molteplici proposte riferite a grandi artisti russi.
    Banale lo scarno libretto, ma indispensabile, come detto, il contenuto musicale del cd.


     
    GREAT ARTISTS IN MOSCOW CONSERVATOIRE    SMC 0051

    Produzione straordinaria, ancora una volta, di questa etichetta che si auto qualifica come “Moscow Conservatory records” e che in quanto tale possiamo solo larvatamente immaginare di quali e quanti tesori musicali sia in possesso, non solo riferiti a Richter, se è vero, come circola voce, che tutti i concerti eseguiti al Conservatorio Čaikovskij siano stati registrati. Certamente non tutti in qualità somma, ma spesso la importanza di una registrazione “storica” con il suo grande spessore artistico predomina sulla ricerca della qualità audio perfetta e ce la fa apprezzare nonostante tutto.
    Tale è il caso di questo straordinario concerto tenutosi nella Sala Grande del Conservatorio di Mosca il 3 aprile 1951. Sopravvissuto in registrazione amatoriale con alcune lacune in un paio di brani, viene ora riproposto ufficialmente nella sua interezza in una magnifica restaurazione operata dai tecnici russi.
    Fa piacere che nel ben curato, anche se breve, libretto che accompagna un layout lussuoso - come sempre in questa etichetta – sia citato lo studioso e collezionista russo Yuri Bochonoff, propugnatore dell’iniziativa, che onora con la sua amicizia, sia il curatore di questo blog, sia alcuni suoi contributori, sia il sottoscritto.
    Ma occupiamoci della musica.
    L’ordine dei brani eseguiti nel concerto di cui sopra – un tutto Bach – fu il seguente:

    1. SUITE INGLESE NR.1 in La maggiore BWV 806
    2. SONATA NR.5 in re minore  BWV 964
    3. WTC LIBRO I: PRELUDIO E FUGA in Fa maggiore BWV 856
    4. WTC LIBRO I: PRELUDIO E FUGA in fa minore BWV 857
    5. SUITE INGLESE NR.6 in re minore BWV 811

    Con i seguenti bis:

    1. SUITE INGLESE NR.6 : SARABANDA
    2. SUITE INGLESE NR.6 : GAVOTTA
    3. SUITE INGLESE NR.6 : PRELUDIO

    Altro elemento che aumenta l’interesse verso queste esecuzioni è che Richter eseguì le due Suite e la Sonata per la prima volta in pubblico in questa occasione.
    Correttamente il libretto riporta l’ordine originale delle esecuzioni e spiega il motivo prettamente tecnico che ha portato ad una diversa progressione dei brani sul cd (sono assenti i bis).
    Non sarà sfuggito all’appassionato richteriano i quaranta anni di distanza che separano queste esecuzioni delle Suite e della Sonata del 1951 dalla ripresa che Richter ne fece nel 1991, anno che vide decine di esecuzioni di questi brani in tutta Europa. Importante quindi per chi vorrà condurre una esegesi dell’arte interpretativa del Maestro questa distanza temporale tra brani medesimi, che segna non solo una evoluzione artistica ma di Pensiero.



    SCHUBERT Richter Plays Schubert Live

    Melodiya MELCD1002231
    (4CDs)



    Eccellente questa produzione della Melodiya, eccellente sotto tutti i punti di vista, tanto  da consigliarne l’acquisto a tutti gli appassionati del nostro grande Maestro.
    I dettagli si possono trovare nel seguito della nota. Qui vorrei evidenziare alcune delle perle contenute in questo cofanetto di 4 cd, facilmente reperibile online ad un prezzo assolutamente accessibile e conveniente. Novità esecutive, libretto, programmi manoscritti di Richter e tanta musica, tanto Schubert, tanta arte.
                Che Richter sia stato il pianista che per primo, e non solo nell’Unione Sovietica, abbia recuperato l’arte schubertiana della Sonata mettendola allo stesso livello di un Beethoven è cosa nota, e se ne era ben accorto anche Glenn Gould, di cui non sto a ripetere il famoso aneddoto del suo ascolto di un concerto schubertiano di Richter del 1957 (vedi nota) 1]. E’ vero che in precedenza tale opera di recupero era stata fatta anche da Artur Schnabel, ma fu Richter il pianista moderno che diede nuova freschezza al sonatismo schubertiano liberandolo dalla polvere viennesizzante o dall’oblìo in cui era stato confinato.
                In questi quattro cd troviamo esecuzioni finora mai commercializzate e quindi nuove per la discografia del Maestro (solo la Marcia D 606 da questa data era stata pubblicata precedentemente).
                Troviamo due concerti completi (2.5.1978 e 18.10.1978) e una serie di piccoli pezzi raramente eseguiti da Richter, tra cui un paio in prima esecuzione assoluta.
                Troviamo degli esempi di manoscritti richteriani utili, per chi non avesse mai visto la sua scrittura (anche se credo che la sua concertografia manoscritta sia ormai di dominio pubblico) a inquadrare la sua precisione e il suo ordine mentale.
                Troviamo una qualità audio superba, un libretto interessante in russo, inglese e francese, un prezzo assolutamente onesto e accessibile.
                Ma soprattutto troviamo Schubert, lo Schubert richteriano, il vero Schubert modernamente inteso.

                Per chi fosse interessato all’acquisto online suggerisco:
    oppure
    MDT 





                                   
    CD 1
    Sonata No. 6 in E minor, D. 566
    Sonata No. 11 in F minor, D. 625
    Sonata No. 13 in A major, D. 664

    Recorded at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on October 18, 1978
    [INSIEME CON TRACCE 8-10 DEL CD4 COSTITUISCE CONCERTO COMPLETO DEL 18.10.1978]

    CD 2
    Sonata No. 18 in G major, D. 894
    Sonata No. 6 in E minor, D. 566

    Recorded at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on May 2, 1978
    [INSIEME CON TRACCE 1-7 DEL CD4 COSTITUISCE CONCERTO COMPLETO DEL 2.5.1978]

    CD 3
    Sonata No. 9 in B major, D. 575
    Sonata No. 19 in C minor, D. 958

    Recorded at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on June 8, 1979 (D575), October 6, 1971 (D958)

    CD 4

    1 Scherzo No. 2 in D flat major, D. 593 – 6.05
    2 Andante in A major, D. 604 – 4.46
    3 4 Landlers from D. 366 in the order: D. 366/1 A major – D. 366/3 A minor – D. 366/5 A minor – D. 366/4 A minor – D. 366/5 – D. 366/4 – D. 366/1 – 5.36
    4 Allegretto in C minor, D. 915 – 7.16
    Moments musicaux, D. 780
    5 No. 1 Moderato, C major – 5.38
    6 No. 3 Allegro moderato, F minor – 2.04
    7 No. 6 Allegretto, A flat major – 12.00
    8 2 Ecossaises from D. 734 and 4 Ecossaises from
    D. 421 in the order: D. 734/1 A minor – D. 734/2
    A major – D. 734/1 – D. 734/2 – D. 421/1 A flat major –
    D. 421/3 E flat major – D. 421/1 – D. 421/2
    А flat major – D. 421/1 – D. 421/6 A flat major – 2.54
    9 2 German Dances from D. 790 in the order: D. 790/8
    A flat minor – D. 790/11
    А flat major – D. 790/8 – 2.58
    10 Impromptu in G flat major, D. 899/3 – 7.02
    11 March in E major, D. 606 – 4.47
    12 Impromptu in E flat major, D. 899/2 – 4.39
    13 Impromptu in A flat major, D. 899/4 – 7.43


    Recorded at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on May 2, 1978 (1–7), October 18, 1978 (8–10), May 3, 1978 (11–13) 


     1]Videoconferenza tratta da "Richter The Enigma", di Bruno Monsaingeon, e in "No, non sono un eccentrico" Ed. EDT
    La prima volta che lo sentii suonare fu nella Sala Grande del Conservatorio di Mosca nel maggio 1957. Iniziò il programma con l'ultima sonata di Schubert, quella in si bemolle maggiore. Si tratta di una sonata estremamente lunga, una delle più lunghe mai scritte, e Richter la suonò con il tempo più lento che io abbia mai sentito, rendendola di conseguenza ancora più lunga. A questo punto mi sembra il caso di fare una doppia confessione: innanzitutto, anche se a molti sembrerà un'eresia, sono ben lungi dall'essere un patito di Schubert e faccio fatica ad abituarmi alle strutture ripetitive tipiche di gran parte della sua musica; l'idea di dover restar fermo ad ascoltare i suoi interminabili tentativi mi irrita spaventosamente, è una tortura. Per di più detesto assistere ai concerti e preferisco ascoltare musica registrata nella solitudine di casa mia, dove nessun elemento visivo viene a inserirsi nel processo uditivo distraendolo. Ho confessato queste cose per dire che, quando sentii che Richter cominciava questa sonata con un tempo così incredibilmente rallentato, mi preparai a passare un'oretta alquanto agitata a contorcermi sulla poltrona. Ebbene, per tutta l'ora che effettivamente durò mi trovai in uno stato che non posso descrivere altrimenti se non come quello di una trance ipnotica. Tutti i pregiudizi sulle strutture ripetitive di Schubert erano scomparsi; tutti i dettagli musicali, che fino ad allora m'erano apparsi come appartenenti alla sfera dell'ornamentazione, assumevano improvvisamente l'aspetto di elementi organici. Avevo l'impressione di essere testimone dell'unione di due qualità apparentemente inconciliabili: un intenso calcolo analitico, che si rivelava però attraverso una spontaneità paragonabile all'improvvisazione, e in quell'istante - cosa che mi è stata ulteriormente confermata a più riprese ascoltando le incisioni di Richter - compresi di essere davanti a uno degli uomini con la più forte capacità di comunicazione che il mondo musicale abbia prodotto nel nostro tempo.



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    Bashmet said of him...


    Arab Times, Jan 2012
    ‘He was interested very much in music news. He had no time to attend concerts, he asked about new compositions. He was a movie maniac and opera lover: any opera aria he was able to hum at once.' 
     


    ... on Shostakovich, Sonata for Viola ...

    'I lost my breath… After that we played several concert tours in Europe performing Sonatas from Hindemith and Britten along with Shostakovich. The last one held special meaning for Richter: it was the last piece of the composer, his tragic epitaph.'


    Excerpts from 'Artist’s soul full of paradox: Clef to Bashmet'. By Cezary Owerkowicz - Special to the Arab Times -




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    Sviatoslav Richter: 
    new cultural sputnik in orbit

    by John Milder

     (HiFi/Stereo review, Oct. 1960)






    PDF

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    David Samoilov's Poem “Richter” 
    Translation by Jaan Kross

    "R i c h t e r"


    The wing of the grand piano. Richter’s hands, 
    Exquisite, quick and strong, 
    Like racehorses. Rather, 
    A comparison I cannot find. 
    He makes one look at music, 
    to guess at its portents 
    in face, figure, mimicry, and gesture. 
    Having not seen Richter you lose something 
    Of inspiration and mastery, 
    As in letters 
    You lose the sense of interaction. 
    Men of transistors and tape players, 
    We’ve grown accustomed to carry music with us 
    And adapt it to our dwelling. 
    But Richter builds music in the hall 
    And returns music to music. 
    Hark to the face of Richter, 
    to the hands of the contemplative horseman, 
    Guide to the horses carved from sound... 
    Thus, while the chariots slow their pace 
    on the descent from the horizon, 
    Helios himself harkens to the singing 
    of the black swan of Apollo 
    with the wing thrown back.





    ACTA SLAVICA ESTONICA II.
    Труды по русской и славянской филологии. Литературоведение VIII.
    Jaan Kross and Russian Culture.
    Tartu, 2012


    DAVID SAMOILOV’S POEM “RICHTER”
    AND ITS TRANSLATION BY JAAN KROSS*

     
    LEA PILD

     

    PDF


    As noted by the commentators of the David Samoilov volume of the “Library of a Poet” collection, Samoilov’s poem “Richter” was written in 1980 and origi-nally published on January 9, 1981 in the newspaper “Literary Russia” («Литературная Россия») as “To Richter” [Примечания: 706]. It was also included in the poetry anthology “The Gulf” (1981).
    Even in his youth, Svyatoslav Teofilovich Richter (1915–1997), the brilliant Russian pianist of German heritage, became a legendary, almost mythological personality in the minds of his contemporaries, thanks not only to the magnitude of his remarkable musical talent, but also to his extraordinary personal qualities. On the one hand, the text that is the focus of this article fits in with Samoilov’s later works, in which he writes about artists (and not only about poets, but also painters, musicians, etc). Instead of this, in this case particular attention is drawn to Samoilov’s verses that refer specifically to music and the lyrical hero’s perception of music. It is worthwhile to consider not only the works of the 1970s and 1980s, but also earlier texts, since despite the im-portance of the “musical theme” to Samoilov (see, for example: [Сташенко]), he wrote many fewer poems about musicians and music than about poets and poetry. This article will take into account this wider context of Samoilov’s work only when absolutely necessary; the main focus will be a close semantic analysis of the poem of interest. Here it is in full:

    * The article was written under the research theme TFLGR 0469 “Reception of Russian Literature in Estonia in the 20th Century: from the Interpretation to Translation”.

     
    Рихтер 1
    Крыло рояля. Руки Рихтера,
    Изысканные, быстрые и сильные,
    Как скаковые лошади. Точнее
    Сравненья не умею подыскать.
    Он заставляет музыку смотреть,
    Угадывать ее предвестье
    В лице, фигуре, мимике и жесте.
    Не видя Рихтера теряешь что-то
    От вдохновения и мастерства,
    Как в письмах
    Утрачиваешь что-то от общенья.
    Транзисторщики и магнитофонцы,
    Мы музыку с собой таскать привыкли
    И приспосабливать ее к жилью.
    А Рихтер музыку возводит в зал
    И возвращает музыку в музыку.
    Прислушаемся к Рихтерову лику,
    К рукам задумчивого ездока,
    Вожатому коней, изваянных из звука…
    Так, колесницы умедляя ход
    На спуске с небосклона,
    Сам Гелиос внимает, как поет,
    Крыло откинув,
    Черный лебедь Аполлона

    [Самойлов 2006: 287–288].

    The first part of “Richter” accents visual images, related to the performing ap-pearance of the protagonist. In this case, we can talk about one of the most common motifs found in critics’ reviews of Richter’s concerts and about their descriptions of the art of Richter’s piano playing in the 1970s through the 1990s. So, for example, Samoilov may have had access to the brochure about Richter, first published in 1977 by Gennady Moiseevich Tsypin, renowned musicologist and researcher of the creative psychology of musical performers.
     

    1“Richter” — The wing of the grand piano. Richter’s hands, / Exquisite, quick and strong, / Like racehorses. Rather, / A comparison I cannot find. / He makes one look at music, / to guess at its portents / in face, figure, mimicry, and gesture. / Having not seen Richter you lose something / Of inspiration and mastery, / As in letters / You lose the sense of interaction. / Men of transistors and tape players, / We’ve grown accustomed to carry music with us / And adapt it to our dwelling. / But Richter builds music in the hall / And returns music to music. / Hark to the face of Richter, / to the hands of the contemplative horseman, / Guide to the horses carved from sound... / Thus, while the chariots slow their pace / on the descent from the horizon, / Helios himself harkens to the singing / of the black swan of Apollo / with the wing thrown back.

    Tsypin deftly summarized a whole list of the views of his peers regarding the visuality of Richter’s playing. For instance, among many others, he cites the statements of Richter’s teacher, Heinrich Neuhaus, and renowned pianist Vera Gornostaeva, Richter’s younger peer and professor at the Moscow Conservatory. From the brochure we read: “Richter is an artist who creates exclusively alive, nuanced, and characteristically precise soundscapes. Emanating from the hands of the pianist, they strike listeners as something absolutely real, almost absolutely tangible, like something distinctly visible in every edge and contour, almost “substantive”, stereoscopically voluminous” [Цыпин: 20].
    The statements of Richter’s peers are congruous with another important motif that dominates the second part of the poem: the freedom of the pianist’s art from all that is “everyday”, “utilitarian”, or not of true value (compare, for example: “…he never knew, and as a matter of principle didn’t want to know the everyday, “worldly”, vanities surrounding music” [Ibid: 12]). This contrast of Richter, who frees music from “vanities”, to other performers who don’t understand music’s fundamental principles, can be found in Neuhaus’s 1957 essay about Richter: “In this regard I am compelled to recall the words of my student, Jakov Zak, after one of Svyatoslav Richter’s concerts in the Grand Hall of the Conservatory. He said something like this: ‘In the world there is music that is pristine, sublime, and clean, simple and clear, like nature; people came and started to decorate music, draw patterns on it, dress it up in masks and costumes, and distort its meaning in every way. Then Svyatoslav appeared, and with one movement of his hand wiped away all that excess, and music became clear again, simple and pure’” [Нейгауз: 189–190] (the first edition of Neuhaus’s diaries, notes, and articles was published in 1975, and so also may have been accessible to Samoilov when he composed “Richter”). Compare also musicologist and critic Leonid Gakkel’s characterization: “Many, I think, say to him the lines of Thomas Mann: ‘the piano is a direct and sovereign agent of music as such, music as pure spirituality, that’s why one must master it’ (“Doctor Faust”). That is why Richter has mastered it, the only reason!” [Гаккель].
    The next layer of meaning in “Richter” is connected to a reference to a poem of Boris Pasternak: “the second-to-last genius”, as Samoilov puts it 2. The image of the pianist carried aloft into the space above the earth can be found in Pasternak’s well-known poem “Music” (1956). Specifically, this is a poetic reference to Alexander Nikolaevich Skryabin, whom Pasternak likened to God in “Safe Conduct” and in “People and Positions”. As is well known, this comparison to Skryabin was already widespread at the beginning of the 1910s;
     


    2Regarding the role of Pasternak’s poetry in the creative work of Samoilov, see: [Немзер: 33–35].

    it is recorded, for example, in Balmont’s sonnet “Elf” (1916), which was dedi-cated to the author of “The Poem of Ecstasy”: «И шли толпы́. И был певучим гром. / И человеку бог был двойником. / Так Скрябина я видел за ро-ялью» 3 [Бальмонт: 422].


    Analyzing the autobiographical layer of Pasternak’s poem “Music”, Boris Aronovich Katz writes, “…the piano is equated with God’s covenant. But, by the way, if the poem’s hero does not feel like God, then at the very least he is king of the world, humbly called a resident…” [Кац: 28]. Compare:
     

    Они тащили вверх рояль
    Над ширью городского моря,
    Как с заповедями скрижаль
    На каменное плоскогорье.
    Жилец шестого этажа
    На землю посмотрел с балкона,
    Как бы в руках ее держа
    И ею властвуя законно4
     [Пастернак: 112].

    Samoilov’s poem also speaks about the ascension of the pianist above those around him (the listeners), while he himself is clearly totally equated with divinity; however, in contrast to Pasternak, here the “heavenly” hue is fashioned entirely with ancient images (Helios, “Apollo’s swan”). It is of note that Richter himself was associated with the ancient world in the consciousness of his con-temporaries (see: [Цыпин: 27]).
    Finally, the third layer of meaning in the poem is connected to Samoilov’s other works. In 1979, Samoilov finished an article dedicated to Pasternak and entitled “The Second-to-last Genius”, in which the description of the older poet’s reading of verses not only corresponds with visual imagery, but builds itself on an entire series of images that coincide with the description of Rich-ter’s playing in the poem of 1980:
    “It seems that only in Russia do poets know how to read verses from the stage. Pasternak in black, looking like a musician, sang out verses through his nose. His reading was amazing. His jutting lips fully and sculpturally outlined the sound. And that rare visibility of sound of Pasternak’s verses happened. Probably this is how those exquisite horses, the houyhnhnms of Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, would read poetry” <italics here and hereafter mine. — L. P.> [Са-


    3“And the multitudes went. And there was melodious thunder. / And god was the man’s twin. / Thus Skryabin I saw at the piano” [Бальмонт: 422].
    4 They lugged the piano up / above the expanse of the sea of the city, / Like a tablet with commandments / on a stone plateau. / The resident of the sixth floor / Looked at the earth from the balcony, / As if he held it in his hands / and ruled it by law.

    мойлов 2000: 318]. Compare to “Richter”: “The hands of Richter / Exquisite, quick and strong, / Like galloping horses”; “He makes one look at music, / To guess at its portents / In face, figure, mimicry, and gesture”; “Hark to the face of Richter, / to the hands of the contemplative horseman, / Guide to the horses carved from sound” [Самойлов 2006: 287].
    In this case one can speak of the direct subcontext of “Richter” in Samoilov’s article about Pasternak. Clearly, in this poem, in addition to a portrait of a great musician that by all appearances can be traced back mainly to Neuhaus’ and other contemporary musicians’ descriptions of Richter, there are grounds for seeing a portrait also of Pasternak. Samoilov had a complicated relationship with the poet, which gradually changed after the death of the author of “Doctor Zhivago” in the direction of unequivocal acceptance and admiration. So, for example, in Samoilov’s work of the 1970s and 1980s Pasternak became a symbol of “the exalted”, freed from the worldliness of art. In “The Second-to-last Genius”, in explaining to the reader why “Doctor Zhivago” did not make the right impression on Pasternak’s contemporaries when it came out, Samoilov writes: “At that time ‘Doctor Zhivago’ was incomprehensible to both readers and authorities. It’s possible that the Nobel Prize and all that past hullabaloo surrounding it, having hastened Pasternak’s death, knocked down and ob-scured the true meaning of the novel. The book attracted attention to all the hype raised around it. And at that time, I recall, few people liked it… At that time we thought about morality on a political level. That’s why Solzhenytsyn’s novels were closer and crowded out Pasternak’s wonderful novel” [Самойлов 2000: 318].
    In his later poetry also Samoilov mused upon possible perceptions of his poetry and the creative works of today’s generation of poets “without hulla-baloo” (that is, outside political, ideological, and literary arguments): «Пусть нас увидят без возни, / Без козней, розни и надсады, / Тогда и скажется: “Они — Из поздней пушкинской плеяды”. / Я нас возвысить не хочу. / Мы — послушники ясновидца... / Пока в России Пушкин длится, / Метелям не задуть свечу»5, (1978) [Самойлов 2006]. In the 1970s and subsequently, in the eyes of Samoilov, Pasternak became that “high” artist that managed to free himself, while still alive, from the political pressure of the times, accepting all that happens as historical fact: “It <“Doctor Zhivago”. — L. P.> discusses not that which would have been, if nothing had been, but the neces-
     

    5“Let them see us without hullabaloo, / without intrigue, hostility and strife, / Then it will be said, ‘They are of the latter pleiad of Pushkin’. / I don’t want to elevate us. / We are novices of that seer... / While Pushkin prevails in Russia, / The blizzard can’t extinguish the candle”.

    - sity of understanding one’s time. And without judging that time (who has the right to do so!) to live fully and with dignity, that is, to be ‘the music in the ice’” [Самойлов 2000: 319].
    It is obvious that Svyatoslav Richter (the student of Boris Pasternak’s close friend, Heinrich Neuhaus) in Samoilov’s mind became a sort of alter ego to Pasternak, not only because in his art he achieved that hypostasis of the poet, which Pasternak had consciously rejected in his early youth (as we know, Pasternak consequentially rejected pianism and composition), but also because Richter’s performing, artistic character was close to Pasternak’s character as Samoilov understood it. As Richter’s many colleagues and contemporaries bore witness, he successfully didn’t notice or ignored the political regime: “With his back completely turned to politics, being always outside the regime, outside authority, he ingeniously shielded himself from it;” “When he decided something needed to be done, Slava did it. He had no fear before the regime. He simply stood with his back to it” [Горностаева]. In this way Richter’s attitude toward the regime became, from his contemporaries’ point of view, one of the manifestations of his freedom from “worldliness”. It is just such a posi-tion that Samoilov later dreams for Pasternak, that spokesman for “high art”, free of worldliness, although Samoilov understands that, at least for him, this was unattainable during his lifetime. For just this reason Samoilov partially identifies himself with the collective “we” that profanes and trivializes music.
    Now let’s turn to the poem’s translation by the esteemed Estonian novelist Jaan Kross, who was bound by friendship to Samoilov for many years. In the bilingual collection “Bottomless Moments”, published in Tallinn in 19906, the poem “Richter”, from the point of view of the original author and the translator, is representative of the extremely important theme of (artistic) culture that, first and foremost, unites two poets of different nationalities. The poem is writ-ten in blanc iambs (rhymes are is found only in two places); this peculiarity of the metric structure allows Jaan Kross to translate most of the verses very close to the original, frequently not even changing the order of the words in a line (“Käed on Richteril / nii kaunid, väledad ja tugevad”; “Sa teda nägemata kaotad palju / nii meisterlikkuses kui vaimuhoos” [Самойлов, Кросс: 39]). Compositionally, the poem may be divided into two unequal parts. In the first part, Samoilov’s lyrical hero shares with the reader his impressions of the visual appearance of the great pianist, his relationship to music, and contrasts Richter with modern audiophiles (14 lines). The conversational tone of this part ap-


    6Regarding the collection’s structure and other translations of Samoilov by Jaan Kross see: [Сте-панищева: 2010; Степанищева: 2011].

    pears also in the fragmentary syntax (14 lines arranged within seven complete sentences) and enjambment (the poem’s rhythmic divisions often do not cor-respond to the syntactic divisions). In the second part (10 lines) there are only three sentences, and the poetic tone shifts from fragmentary to more fluid and melodic. Here the visual impressions of Richter’s playing become concrete; in the eyes of the author, the performer is associated with the mythological figure of Helios the sun god. The piano also undergoes metamorphosis and becomes the black, singing swan of Apollo. In this way the performer (Helios, seated on the chariot and driving the horses that are Richter’s hands) is dis-tanced from his own performance and becomes a listener. In this case the poem, it seems, reflects the opinion, widespread among Richter’s contemporar-ies and undoubtedly known to Samoilov, about the “artistic objectivity” or “photographic reliability” of Richter’s performance art. The pianist himself believed that the performer must fully submit himself to the composer being performed and maximally reduce his own individuality.
    This second part underwent substantial changes in translation to Estonian. Kross strove to preserve Samoilov’s contrast of the two parts of the poem at the level of rhythm and syntax (the second part of the poem as described above also consists of three sentences in translation). Nonetheless, the enjambment here is nearly as frequent as in the first part of the poem (compare, for example: «Сам Гелиос внимает, как поет, / Крыло откинув, / черный лебедь Аполлона» and “jääb Helioski kuulama, / kui laulab / Apollo / mustatiivuline luik” [Са-мойлов, Кросс: 43]). However, the most serious change occurs on the lexical-semantic level of the translation. First, from the translator’s point of view, the performer bends the music being performed to his own will, literally, “makes it docile in nature and responsive to the hands of a quiet rider”: “ja teeb ta ülevaks ja luulekaks/ ja enda loomusele kuulekaks/ ning altiks vaikse sõitja kätele, / ja sõitjale, kes rihmab hobuseid, / mis helist voolitud…” [Ibid: 39–43], at the moment when for Samoilov music becomes an objective fact, and the hands of the pianist are simply a tool, an instrument for the objectification of music, for returning it to music. Given this condition, the Helios in translation is not a personification of the pianist listening to his own playing, but becomes an additional character listening to the playing of “the rider”.
    The changes in the translation noted above can likely be explained by the fact that Jaan Kross did not reconstruct the intertextual space within which Samoilov composed his poem. Nonetheless, a range of important ideas in this poem were successfully transferred. Above all, the translation depicts an artist to whom is opened the freedom of handling materials. In contrast to an artist of the word, such freedom is always (independent of time) open to a great musician. This idea is emphasized by Jaan Kross in his translation, which, while changing the main idea of the original author, nevertheless closely preserves the aesthetic characteristics of late Samoilov.
     


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