There are many videos available online of the great pianist Sviatoslav Richter at work. In the “comments” section under many of the Richter videos one will often find a person complaining or simply stating that the recording is “fake” or appears to them to be “speeded up.” In this age of photo editing and video editing software, this era in which we assume lies are being told and fakery is afoot, it is something of a backwards compliment being paid to Sviatoslav Richter, who was born 100 years ago today.
Anyone who could cover the keyboard that completely, that quickly, could not have been real. He could, he did, and he was.
Below is a clip of Richter tearing into the Étude Op. 10, No. 4 by Chopin, which is written to be played very fast, with passion; the sheet music itself overflows with notes. In Richter’s hands, it is volcanic.