Mussorgsky/Rachmaninov/ Brahms

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COMPOSERS: Mussorgsky/Rachmaninov/ Brahms
LABELS: Nimbus
WORKS: Pictures at an Exhibition; Variations on a Theme of Corelli; Variations on a Theme of Paganini
PERFORMER: Shura Cherkassky (piano)
Mussorgsky’s Pictures must be a candidate for most hackneyed piano work, and it seems the least welcome item on this compilation from the mid-Eighties. Cherkassky plays the pieces gracefully, beautifully, but not very like Mussorgsky, who needs to be stark and punchy. The Brahms and Rachmaninov are different matters. Superficially, they have that almost casual air which Cherkassky brings even to his studio recordings, but the more you listen to them, the more deeply reflective they seem and all kinds of delicious moments reveal themselves. For all their apparent spontaneity, these are performances to live with. Nimbus’s bathroom acoustic may be an acquired taste, but at least everything is clear. Adrian Jack