Sviatoslav Richter and Schubert's E-flat Impromptu
I've often thought it sad that just as the quality of sound engineering was rising, Richter's star was falling, . Still Richter is the one pianist whose historical recordings I don't mind listening to. The Schubert impromptus on this disc were recorded in Sofia, and not only do they suffer from 1950s Eastern-bloc sound engineering but also from the coughs of the victims of a flu outbreak. But there's still something so inevitable about the way the E-flat impromptu flows from its beginning through to the coda. It reminds me of this passage from Heinrich Neuhaus:
He possesses in great measure that which is usually called a feeling for form, a mastery of time and its rhythmic structure, a sense of balance and harmony stemming from the very depths of a classical disposition. In this lies his greatest power, the main quality that makes one dream of hearing him conduct an orchestra. His singular ability to grasp the whole and at the same time miss none of the smallest details of a composition suggests a comparison with an eagle who from his great height can see as far as the horizon and yet single out the tiniest detail of the landscape. We have before us an imposing mountain range, but against it we can see the lark, taking wing into the sky ... .