Back in the days when I was a university piano performance major, I knew nothing about Richter’s personal proclivities, but most of my fellow students repeated the rampant (and true) gay rumors about Horowitz and Shura Cherkassky, another Russian keyboard titan. Aside from his brilliant piano recordings and performances, when we spoke about Richter, our conversations were mostly related to his role in insisting that Van Cliburn, an upstart American pianist, receive first prize in the Tschaikovsky International Piano Competition that took place in Moscow back in 1958.
Nevertheless, Richter left us with recordings that remain benchmarks of certain repertoire. His vast repertoire encompassed eighty-odd recital programs, everything from Bach and Handel to Gershwin. He was also a quick study. He learned Prokofiev's Sonata No. 7, which was dedicated to him, in four days, thus able to meet the deadline for its premiere.
But enough words. Let’s listen to the music.