Any pianist who tackles Franz Liszt’s great works must possess outstanding skills in many areas. Technical prowess is absolutely necessary to play the extremely difficult score, as is immense physical energy in order to compete with the hefty onslaughts from the orchestra. But a great awareness of the unusual conceptual forms, refined energy and passion are also required to make the keyboard sing. At the beginning of the Sixties Sviatoslav Richter seemed to possess all these attributes in an ideal equilibrium. With youthful energy he catapulted powerful chords against the First Concerto’s defiant theme in the orchestra, offering resistance only to join in later with the lyrical maelstrom of the orchestra. In the Second Concerto Richter exchanges heroic brilliance for an elegiac air, then becomes capricious with graceful arpeggios and a lyrical, firm melodiousness that fires the course of the work. In the Finale these twists and turns come together to form an emphatic single strand of spirited theme, brilliant cadenza and blustering orchestra.
The impressive sound was captured by the highly dedicated Mercury recording team.