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Richter: The Enigma
A film by Bruno Monsaingeon

Ideale Audience International: 3073518: 154 mins

A riveting classic documentary about Sviatoslav Richter, available on DVD again.

This is something of a minefield, but for the non-specialist an absorbing 2-DVD reissue which will enthrall viewers.

Richter allows us to get to know him as both musician and pianist, with his own reading of extracts from his “musician’s diary”. He displays a dry humour, with many contradictions. Many pianists have phenomenal memories; Richter's was a positive trial to him.

His wife, the singer Nina Dorliac, helps to round out the picture with anecdotes which, perhaps, endorse the legend of his being enigmatic; he offers short shrift to questions which don't interest him.

The film traverses his painful family history; apprenticeship in Odessa; his participation in, and opinions of, Stalin´s funeral, after which he ramained forbidden to perform in the West until 1961; he had his heroes - , Britten - but is scathing about the musical milieu and many of its performing artists. He despises the adulation of audiences to those of his performances which he rated as bad.

In his last two years, Richter agreed to a no-holds-barred conversation about his life and career, , regardless of all conventions. The compelling archive footage is appropriately cut in what is primarily a sensitive documentary by Bruno Monsaingeon which may give some possibly new insights into his turbulent life in an unique and terrible era.

He like d to play in the dark because there is nothing to see; how wrong that is, and this re-release is part of a mounting tribute to the value of DVD over sound only recordings.

Presentation and navigation are exemplary. Readers are likely to have some Richter recordings; his discography is something of a minefield; see http://trovar.com/str/RichterD.html andhttp://www.culturekiosque.com/klassik/features/rhericht4.html
"Connoisseurs and sophisticated collectors may navigate with some skill in this labyrinth, but the average classical music listener would find Richter's discography mind-boggling".

Peter Grahame Woolf