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Richter: The Enigma (1998)

Not Rated | | Music , Documentary | TV Movie
At the end of his life - he died on August 1st, 1997 -, the great Russian pianist agreed to talk in front of a camera to Bruno Monsaingeon. In a conversation interspersed with fascinating ... See full summary »


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Cast overview:
Svyatoslav Richter Svyatoslav Richter ... Himself (as Sviatoslav Richter)


At the end of his life - he died on August 1st, 1997 -, the great Russian pianist agreed to talk in front of a camera to Bruno Monsaingeon. In a conversation interspersed with fascinating archive footage, Richter presents us with his memoirs from beyond the grave. Composed of two seventy-seven-minute episodes, this film is among those that leave a lasting impression. Written by Anonymous

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Music | Documentary


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Richter, l'insoumis See more »

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Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #15.3 (2002) See more »

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Richter- The Greatest pianist of the past century.
9 April 2009 | by smonkey-1See all my reviews

The Richter greatness was in his deepest knowledge on "what lies behind the notes". The Richter greatness was in his ability to play, every composer genuinely (i.e. you know-this is Alexander Scriabin, and this is WA Mozart), having deep knowledge of the composer style, time, manner of composing, and real life. No mix, no wizards, no exaggerations, no erratic tempi, style, behavior. And this is soo difficult, soo difficult... . No Padrewski style tricks, no Cortot bunch of wrong notes, no Horowitz show presence.

When Richter plays, you see the whole composition in front of you. You do not listen notes, phrases. You see the Bach i.e., in flesh and blood. The Richter virtuosity was transcendental. But this was not virtuosity for the sake of the virtuosity. We do not see the Maestro Richter virtuosity-he is dissolved into the music and do not struck us with false face.

Richter was not either showman, like Horowitz was. Not to speak to all today "virtuoso" pianists like Perahia, Barenboim or so on...with their unrestrained behavior and grimaces behind the piano-you know... "We feel the music".

But Richter and Rachmaninoff for me is the whole world "behind the notes".

The Richter playing have the ability to capture you. To capture you completely. You are "inside the action". You are able to dream too with the composer, helped in this by the pianist. This was possible because of one simple thing-Richter and Rachmaninoff, beside their virtuosity and technical control, had had the symmetry of their two hands-i.e. the symmetry of their hands while playing was always and almost invisibly prefect. This is crucial, because this create the feeling of the "whole piece". And this is soo difficult... . Hofmann had this too. Horowitz also. But the last two was so uneven in their performances, that this have not of too much help for them. Hofmann was plagued by his genius, unable to cope with the challenges he present to him, Horowitz in contrary, was obsessed with daemons, psychological problems and Wanda-his wife, which truly speaking, was a great destructing force for him.

Second-the two great Masters have their own sound. The colorfulness, the small rubatos, the temp changes, "the inner layers" in the music, they expressed with clarity and vision, which nobody possessed in the past century. Rachmaninoff and Richter respect the pedal, and never "make music" with him, like Gould like to do often, or like other today pianist exaggerate every note, abusing the pedal. Sviatoslav Richter was incomparable too in his ability to play soft, "muted", silently. And this to sound like this-naturally silent.

Richter indeed was VERY complex and very private man, almost and exclusively deeply devoted to his musical world. But with deep knowledge. Nobody in the 20-th century of the piano music had the knowledge and the depth which Racmaninoff and Sviatoslav Richter had have. Rachmaninoff like composer and pianist, Richter like pianist with unbelievable sense of self-criticism, hard diligence and discipline. Richter originate from rich musical environment and German traditions of his father-Theophil Richter was alumni from the Vienna University. Plus, Richter many years in his very youth work like répétiteur for the Odessa ballet and Opera. Almost nobody in the 20-th century piano music work like répétiteur, like Richter do. Because of this, Richter was (with the Rachmaninoff) probably the best by sight reader of the piano sheet music in the whole 20-th century.

Many peoples try to diminish the Richter saying that, in his late years the Maestro played with the note in front of him. The reality is simple-Richter had hearing problems and memory lapses from the late 70-ties and beyond. Yes, but in 1979 Richter was 64yr old man. Many peoples are not able to make 1+1 in this age... not to speak to play Debussy. All this is rubbish...completely. You may see in those years that Richter has his note in front of him for security reason and rare watch them at all.

If you like Richter, look at the Bruno Monsaingeon documentary film "Richter-The Enigma"-there is the real Richter.

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