C2006. EVGENI SVETLANOV Cond. USSR S.O., w. ELISO VIRSALADZE: Piano Concerto #1 in b-flat - Live Performance, 4 June, 1986, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris; EVGENI SVETLANOV Cond. NDR S.O., w. SHURA CHERKASSKY: Piano Concerto #2 in G - Live Performance, 22 Feb., 1986, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Paris. (both Tschaikowsky). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1317. [Thrilling performances in extraordinary sound; most highly recommended!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Yevgeny Svetlanov, the renowned Russian conductor who led his nation's State Symphony Orchestra for 35 years and was a guest conductor of orchestras around the world, was a leading interpreter of Russian composers, and his programs were hailed at home and abroad as disciplined, spirited expressions of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky and Scriabin, but he also performed Mahler, Beethoven and others in the classic repertory.
One of Russia's most versatile musicians, he was known as a gifted pianist and as a composer of symphonies, instrumental chamber music and vocal pieces. But on tours that took him to Europe, Asia and the Americas, he often spoke of his affection for jazz, the big-band sounds of Glenn Miller, even the Beatles.
In a career that spanned the last decades of the Soviet Union and the vast changes in Russian life and culture of the post-Soviet era, Mr. Svetlanov began conducting for the Soviet All-Union Radio in 1953 while still a conservatory student. After graduation in 1955, he became an assistant conductor for the Bolshoi Theater, and he was its chief conductor from 1963 to 1965. In 1965, he was named artistic director and chief conductor of what was then known as the Soviet State Symphony Orchestra.
Reviewing Mr. Svetlanov and the Moscow Symphony performing Tchaikovsky's ‘Pathétique’ at Carnegie Hall in 1969, Harold C. Schonberg, the music critic of THE NEW YORK TIMES, wrote, ’In this work, there was discipline, there was power, and there was a spirit to the playing that made the work an absorbing experience’.
Mr. Svetlanov's style was not flashy, and his work was praised as sensitive to detail, grasping and molding the music into a structure, with interpretations that were sometimes sentimental but more usually full of power and free of superficial showmanship.”
- Robert D. McFadden, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 May, 2002
“Eliso Virsaladze plays with unhurried grace and charm. She has exquisite control and a warm, luscious tone. Her teacher was her grandmother, Anastasia Virsaladze, herself a pupil of Anna Yesipova and a prominent pianist and highly respected piano teacher in Tbilisi. At the age of 19, as the story goes, Anastasia phoned Yakov Zak to ask a favor. Would he allow Eliso to audition for him? The audition led to Eliso's participation in the 1962 Tchaikovsky competition where she won third prize. Two pianists shared first prize that year: Vladimir Ashkenazy and John Ogdon. Eliso Virsaladze received irregular instruction from Yakov Zak and Heinrich Neuhaus, and won the first prize in the Schumann Competition in 1966.
Eliso Virsaladze has taught piano at the Moscow Conservatory since 1967 and was nominated professor in 1994. Since 1995, she has also taught at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. Among her many well known students are Boris Berezovsky and Ekaterina Voskresenskaya.
Eliso Virsaladze is a brightly burning star in the pianistic firmament, the equal of any, and the better of most.”
“Although Shura Cherkassky came from a belle époque of great piano playing, one where the cultivation of character and individuality was paramount, he could never be termed ‘the last of the great Romantics’ for, in a sense, he represented no other tradition than his own. Asked in 1991 to write a celebratory tribute for his 80th birthday, I found myself chasing quantities as elusive as quicksilver. Pin them down and they wriggled away with the pin. Cherkassky would have been delighted by my dilemma, rejoicing to the end in a life-affirming caprice and liberation that defied neat analysis or a tidy sense of category.
Cherkassky studied chiefly with Josef Hofmann, that master of the inner voice, texture, harmony and rhythm. From Hofmann he learnt that even an outwardly innocent score possesses secret nooks and crannies and, once the essential groundwork was done (and Cherkassky was among the most tireless workers in the business), the possibilities were virtually unlimited. Cherkassky used this priceless legacy to supreme advantage, demonstrating in the most positive and reassuring sense that you could never fully ‘know’ a work; that, like some multi-faceted jewel, it could be turned in the light to reveal a myriad colours and perspectives.
For long a London resident, Cherkassky gave concert after concert in his adopted city, red-letter days even in the teeming life of such a musical centre. His audiences were invariably capacity ones, liberally peppered with pianists who shook their heads in disbelief at that extraordinary blend of charm, elfin mischievousness and transcendental pianism. Single- minded and, indeed, obsessive, Cherkassky never taught (‘I could never teach, not for a second, not for a moment’) and successfully eluded invitations to appear on the juries of competitions, seeing them as venues of the standardisation he so instinctively disliked. It is no exaggeration to say that few pianists in the history of piano playing have been held in such awe and affection.”
- Bryce Morrison, THE INDEPENDENT, 29 Dec., 1995