Shura Cherkassky, Vol. 3  (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1302)
Item# P1437
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Shura Cherkassky, Vol. 3  (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1302)
P1437. SHURA CHERKASSKY: Chopin, Ravel, Balakirev, Brahms, Mozart (the latter's Sonata #13 in B-flat, K.333) & Liszt (the latter's Sonata in b). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1302, Live Performance, 5 July, 1989, Ëglise Saint-Vincent de Ciboure, France. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.


“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

"Listening to eminent pianists, one typically reacts to them as either powerhouses or poets (the great ones, of course, display both qualities). Shura Cherkassky belongs to a rarer category, the pianist as personality. His style might seem arbitrary and at times idiosyncratic to an objective listener, but few pianophiles can remain objective about him. Collectors will already know if Cherkassky’s is a name they flee from or dote on. During his many years in London doting was by far the prevailing tone.

Cherkassky...was known for playing far into old age before adoring English audiences. His technique remained amazingly intact, and more importantly, he never lost his charisma. The family was Jewish and fled to the U.S. very early to escape the Russian Revolution. Shura (short for Alexander) was a born performer who loved his audience right back.

He didn’t so much outlive the Golden Age as turn it into his shtick...If you sigh and fondly remember what it was like when a pianist had his listeners eating out of the palm of his hand (or hers), you probably haven’t had such a reaction since the final years of the equally adored Arthur Rubinstein."

- Huntley Dent, FANFARE