After a couple requests for more Schubert, here’s perhaps the greatest pianist of the twentieth century (and hence the greatest yet recorded) playing the first movement of his favorite Schubert sonata, number 18, the last that Schubert published in his lifetime, which Schumann thought to be a perfect piece of music. You can continue to watch the other movements on Youtube.
Richter’s greatness, in my opinion, is his rare combination of objectivity and subjectivity. If I think of someone like Glenn Gould (one of my other favorites), I appreciate his objectivity, his ability to make a piece by Bach shine with its own cold glistening inner light: in fact, his best works sound like light unbraided into the spectrum of colors. But when Gould plays Chopin, for instance, it sounds really weird, weird in an interesting but unjust way. Most players who excel at Chopin or Schubert have a more heartfelt, subjective touch. Richter seems to synthesize both approaches: there’s an inner light to the piece and a very warm human quality to his playing.
As an aside, my favorite Schubert sonata is number 21 in B flat major, perhaps less perfect but more sublime.