Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995) was, paradoxically, one of the most celebrated and one of the most reclusive pianists of his time. His fabled technique and peerless musicianship earned him attention early on as the undisputed winner of the 1939 Geneva International Music Competition. One of the jury members was Alfred Cortot, who announced "A new Liszt is born!". To the frustration of his public, Michelangeli’s studio recordings were few and his concert appearances sporadic: his brief recital for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (taped in the Toronto studios, 1970) was appropriately titled "A Most Rare Event". It features a sterling performance of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3.
Sviatoslav Richter (1915–1997) was a pianist in the Great Tradition, yet there was nothing traditional about this colossus of the keyboard. Few pianists have had the technical, emotional, and intellectual range that Richter brought to his performances. In 1964, Richter was invited to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Toronto studios for a videotaping of a recital program. The main work of the program, Prokofiev’s Second Piano Sonata in D minor, is a perfect vehicle for a demonstration of Richter’s art, combining, as it does, passages of thrilling virtuosity contrasted with some of Prokofiev’s most lyrical pages. The Sonata is flanked by Brahms’s lovely E minor Intermezzo and two contrasting works by Ravel: the shimmering impressionistic tapestry of Jeux d’eau and the brilliant Spanish-flavored Alborado del Gracioso.
Color/B&W, 65 minutes, 4:3, All regions