An Extraordinary Recital
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 10/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording comes from the 1974 Aldeburgh Festival and is among the most memorable recitals by Shura Cherkassky. Mr. Cherkassky opens with a Gavotte by Rameau that is charmingly played which is followed by a marvelous rendering of Beethoven's Patheque sonata. As Bryce Morrison, who wrote the notes, points out, this is arguably the most joyous recording of this work with Mr. Cherkassky teasing out wonderful details and making the familiar music seem quite new.
Following the Beethoven comes Felix Mendelssohn's Fantasia in F sharp minor (Sonate ecossaise); cast in three movements this is a demanding work, particularly in the Presto finale, that Mr. Cherkassky plays to perfection. I have a great deal of Chopin that is performed by Mr. Cherkassky and these Nocturne and Scherzo he performed at Aldeburgh are probing and sensitive readings. The two short Preludes of Scriabin and the Nocturne of Tchaikovsky allow Mr. Cherkassky to explore his Russian roots. The Scriabin is quietly introspective in the 5th Prelude and passionate in the 10th making an interesting contract; the Tchaikovsky is a delightful short piece somewhat introspective but light and charming. The final work, Liszt's Reminiscences de Don Juan is a true bravura piece that Mr. Cherkassky plays with astonishing virtuosity.
As Mr. Morrison points out in his notes, Shura Cherkassky came from a time where a pianist was equally important as the composer in the interpretation of a piece of music. This recital shows Mr. Cherkassky as a performer ever exploring the richness of music rather than offering a staid interpretation. The works are beautifully recorded with applause between selections. This CD is a must for lovers of Shura Cherkassky and is a perfect introduction to a remarkable pianist.