Richter Plays Gershwin

I was quite surprised today when I learned that the late pianist Sviatoslav Richter had recorded music by George Gershwin. Yet, as I contemplated further, I recalled that Maurice Ravel was influenced by the music of Gershwin, as we can see in Ravel’s Piano Concerto. So… not all that strange after all.

Here are details about the Richter recording:

Svjatoslav Richter Plays:

Piano Concerto in F major

Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103 ‘Egyptian’

Performed by Svjatoslav Richter (piano), with the Stuttgart SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra, Christoph Eschenbach conducting.

This recording apparently has already achieved cult status. The then, 78 year old Sviatoslav Richter plays for the first and last time in public Gershwin’s jazzy Concerto in F-sharp. Gershwin’s works had always been suspect under the Soviet regime. All the more surprising was Richter’s decision to perform this work in his maturity.

Needless to say, Richter never made a formal, studio recording of this work. It is not only a unique recording, but also a document of Richter’s expansive interest in all musical repertoires than came under his purview.

The Fifth Piano Concerto by Camille Saint-Saëns was eclipsed by the same composer’s more popular “Second” Concerto throughout Richter’s performing career. With the exception of one album, he never again recorded this work and there is no record that he ever again performed it internationally.

Here is a recording of the Gershwin concerto in F:

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