Cherkassky and Schwarz lose track of each other at the end of the Rachmaninov. It is stated that the producer decided to issue the recording anyway, due to the high caliber of the performance prior to the final snafu. Questionable decision, considering the number and quality of recorded performances there are to choose from. The performances of soloist and orchestra are underpowered and the interpretation stodgy, and the vintage recorded sound does nothing to enhance the overall impression.
I would have given the recording 3 stars, but for the unfortunate coupling of the Prokofiev Second. This is one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the modern repertoire, and it takes a player of formidable technique and interpretive skills to pull it off. It is obvious from Cherkassky's labored performance that he was no longer up to the task. The opening movement's long, difficult cadenza mercilessly exposes his lack of digital dexterity. In most of the bravura passages, he simply stomps down on the sustain pedal and takes a stab at the keys, hitting a very low percentage of the correct ones. Sometimes he speeds up to gloss it over, and other times he slows down to labor over a passage. As one who has sight read the entire score many times over and owns 22 versions on CD or LP, the end result is truly excruciating. Prior reviewers who liked the performance likely have never experienced how truly searing, sarcastic, virtuostic and brilliant this concerto can sound in the proper hands, say Ashkenazy, Gutierrez, Frager, Krainev or Toradze, to name just a few.
In fairness to Cherkassky, he was in his 80's when the Prokofiev was recorded, and would die 4 years later. His long, distinguished career should not be judged on this atypically poor performance, that should never have been preserved in the first place.