Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt|
Brahms: Paganini-Variationen; Chopin: Polonaise; Liszt: Réminiscences
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Classical
Great Brahms and Liszt from Cherkassky
Anton Zimmerling | Moscow, Russia | 01/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD issued by the Orfeo label is a valuable addition to Shura Cherkassky's discography. It contains studio recordings made in Köln on March, 5, 1953 and Januar 21, 1951 (Chopin, Scherzo No. 4). If you have not listened to this amazing pianist yet, this CD may be an easy beginning. If you are an experienced collector and have heard about Cherkassky's rises and drops, rejoice: he is in a top form and his playing is free from mannerisms, that sometimes plagued his recitals in a later period.
On this CD Cherkassky performs three large Chopin's pieces - the Polonaise No. 5 in F sharp minor, Op. 44, the 4th Ballade in F minor, Op. 52, and the 4th Scherzo in E, Op. 54, Brahms' Paganini-Variations Op. 35, Liszt's Réminiscences de Don Juan and Mendelssohn's short Capriccio in E minor, Op. 16, No. 2. Most of these performances are exceptionally effective and stand a comparison with the best variants in the discography of the above mentioned pieces. Of course, if you compare Cherkassky's interpretations not with average market alternatives, but with the really best ones, you might have different favorites, but that is another story.
Probably the best item on this CD is Réminiscences de Don Juan: it is at least not weaker than Cherkassky's 1974 live version (BBCL 4185). I would vote for this 1953 studio mono variant. Even if you are not fond of Liszt, but love Mozart's opera, you will enjoy both Mozart's motives and this ingenious Liszt's arrangement.
Chopin's F minor Ballade with Cherkassky is a stunner. It is not an improvisatory approach a la legendary Josef Hoffmann's 1938 concert performance. But it is nevertheless a large-scale and rhapsodic playing, which cannot be heard in our day. The Polonaise is less convincing, but the 4th Scherzo, with its abrupt changes of tempo and mood, suits Cherkassky's style perfectly.
Cherkassky's rendition of Brahms' Paganini-Variations, Op. 35 deserves a special mention, though I am trying to be short. I'll just state that it offers a serious alternative to the best post-war performances, as Anda 1953 (available on Testament) or Katchen 1965 (Decca): the fact that this recording of Cherkassky is hardly remembered, while Anda's and Katchen's have an established reputation, has nothing to do with artistic quality. Cherkassky's recording is almost ten minutes longer (26'04) than my favorite version of Paganini-variations - by Wilhelm Backhaus 1929 (16'32) - see my review on amazon.com. But what unites Cherkassky with Backhaus is that both don't hold the same 'ground speed', but vary their tempi from variation to variation: the difference is that Cherkassky is doing it in a different temporal diapason. As far as I can see, he skipped Variation 6 in Book II, but made no other cuts. Cherkassky's Brahms is grand without being brutal - a great combination. And his touch is stunning both at piano and at forte.
The booklet is excellent and contains a lot of biographical information about Shura Cherkassky.
Highly recommended. Buy and enjoy!"