The appeal of this release hinges more on its sound quality than on the quality of its well-known and excellent performances. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound very good. One can more or less hear Richter – details of articulation occasionally get lost, inner voices are sometimes obscured, and bigger sonorities are often opaque – but he sounds like he's miles away. One can hear Sanderling and the USSR Radio & Television Symphony Orchestra only faintly when they're quiet, somewhat better when they're louder, and all too well when they're really loud. There have been better releases of these recordings in the past – many listeners prefer the 1995 BMG-Melodiya issues – and there will likely be better releases in the future. This one's not worth it except for Richter specialists who have to have every release of every performance Richter ever recorded.
This is the largest, most comprehensive, and most valuable collection currently available of the playing of one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. Czech Radio seems to have recorded virtually everything Richter played during his frequent visits to Prague during a period of 34 years. Many of the highlights of the pianist's vast repertoire are included here, including 10 Beethoven Sonatas, two Concertos, and the "Diabelli" Variations, along with major works of Brahms, Chopin, Mozart, Ravel, Schubert, Schumann, and Scriabin.
Even though Franz Joseph Haydn is widely credited as the father of the string quartet, the Casal Quartet makes a startling claim that the honor may belong to Franz Xaver Richter, whose seven String Quartets, Op. 5, seem to have determined the character of the genre, from their first performance by Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf's quartet in 1757. Richter's quartets preceded Haydn's and Boccherini's earliest efforts by several years, suggesting that they were likely influential. Furthermore, the sophistication and polish of his Op. 5 suggests that he may well have composed other such quartets, though if he did, they are lost.