Rameau, Haydn, Hindemith, Chopin, L Berkeley, Liszt, Tchaikovsky

COMPOSERS: Chopin,Haydn,Hindemith,L Berkeley,Liszt,Rameau,Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
ALBUM TITLE: Shura Cherkassky
WORKS: Solo piano works by Rameau, Haydn, Hindemith, Chopin, L Berkeley, Liszt and Tchaikovsky
PERFORMER: Shura Cherkassky (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: WHLive 0014
A typically eclectic programme from Shura Cherkassky in 1993 – and a perfect illustration of the fact that he played pieces that he enjoyed, and communicated that enjoyment to his audience. He thrived in a live situation, where his imaginative way with the music could be caught on the wing – not for him dry authenticity or conformity: every performance was different. In both Rameau’s Gavotte variée and Haydn’s E minor Sonata, there’s a teasing quality in the rubato and phrasing which gives the music lightness and buoyancy. Sometimes the 84-year-old fingers don’t quite negotiate trills cleanly, but that’s a small price to pay for such delightful playing.

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Occasional technical fallibility is more of an intrusion in the Liszt Second Hungarian Rhapsody, and the four Chopin pieces, though again there’s the most sensitively limpid, balanced playing in the quieter passages. And the overall flow of the music, especially in the F sharp minor Nocturne, has a fluidity which dissolves the bar lines. In the same way, it’s good to hear the Hindemith Third Sonata played, not as a dry neo-classical exercise, but as a piece of Romantic music, with a rich piano sonority that also gives distinction to the short pieces by Lennox Berkeley. Martin Cotton