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Shura Cherkassky At His BestOct. 29 2007
David A. Wend
- Published on Amazon.com
I was interested in this CD from the start because of the concertos and that the mid-1950s was a time when Shura Cherkassky's career was is ascendancy in Europe. The Prokofiev Second was a concerto Mr. Cherkassky performed frequently (the notes mention that he probably heard the composer play the concerto in America). There is a recording from 1991 that he made with Kent Nagano that is nicely played by Cherkassky but I found that his performance with the Philharmonia has a bit more drive in his playing. The phrasing is beautifully articulated and Mr. Cherkassky makes this fiendishly difficult music sound so effortless. The Shostakovich First is played with elegance and a lightness of touch. Where many performers hammer the keyboard Mr. Cherkassky maintains Shostakovich's wit but has a lighter touch that is more lyrical and less jazz performance. I am equally at home in both performances but do find this one refreshing.
The CD ends with keyboard works by Chasins, Poulenc, Stravinsky and Beethoven. The Three Chinese Pieces by Abram Chasins was of interest since Cherkassky and Chasins were both pupils of Josef Hoffman. The pieces are short and describe vastly different oriental scenes: a Shanghai Tragedy, Flirtation in a Chinese Garden and Rush Hour in Hong Kong. They are delightful light pieces as are the remaining works: a Toccata by Poulenc from Three Pieces, Circus Polka by Stravinsky and a Bagatelle of Beethoven.
Unfortunately, the sound is mono and although transferred nicely to CD the quality does not come up to stereo let alone digital standards. However, the quality of the performances is first-rate so if you have an interest in Shura Cherkassky you will want to have this disc.