When Vladimir Horowitz died in 1989, many music-lovers bemoaned the passing of ‘the last Romantic’ – an allusion to a bigger-than-life and subjective brand of pianism more typical of the first part of the 20th century than of its close. But was Horowitz really ‘the last’? When Jorge Bolet died a year later, the phrase was used once again and it still is being used in connection with Earl Wild who continues to thumb his nose at Father Time by playing demanding recital programs into his nineties.
Shura Cherkassky, who died in 1995, was no less ‘the last Romantic’ than any of the aforementioned pianists. Like the best of his contemporaries, he had a formidable technique at his disposal, and he took great joy in it, communicating that joy to his audiences. His ability to give the music colour and shading was just one of the things he did particularly well. He also had an unusual understanding of how to use the sustaining pedal to great effect.
This collection presents, for the first time in its entirety, the 1974 studio recordings of encores, entitled ‘Kaleidoscope’, after a piece by Cherkassy’s teacher, Josef Hofmann. There is wizardry at every turn of phrase and not just in the fast pieces. Cherkassky’s ability to spin a line in such things as Rubinstein’s ‘Melody in F’ or in the Albéniz/Godowsky ‘Tango’ are truly breathtaking. The recording is completed with three ‘live’ items recorded in concert in 1975 at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.
JOHANN STRAUSS II/GODOWSKY: Wein, Weib und Gesang
CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS/GODOWSKY: The Swan
JEAN-PHILIPPE RAMEAU/GODOWSKY: Tambourin
LEOPOLD GODOWSKY: Waltz-Poem IV for Left Hand alone
FRANZ SCHUBERT/GODOWSKY: Moment musical No. 3 in F minor
ISAAC ALBÉNIZ/GODOWSKY: Tango, Op. 165 No. 2
LEOPOLD GODOWSKY: Alt Wien
JOSEF HOFMANN: Kaleidoscope, Op. 40 No. 4
ANTON RUBINSTEIN: Melody in F major, Op. 3 No. 1
PYOTR ILYICH TCHAIKOVSKY: Nocturne in C sharp minor, Op. 19 No. 4
ALEXANDER GLAZUNOV: Waltz in D major, Op. 42 No. 3
CECILE CHAMINADE: Autrefois, Op. 87
MORITZ MOSZKOWSKI: Caprice espagnol, Op. 37
ALEXANDER SCRIABIN: Prelude in D major, Op. 11 No. 5
SERGEI RACHMANINOV: Polka de W.R.
FREDERIC CHOPIN: Nocturne No. 15 in F minor, Op. 55 No. 1
FREDERIC CHOPIN: Ballade No. 3 in A flat Major, Op. 47
Shura Cherkassky, piano
‘Cherkassky’s sumptuous tone, ravishing legato touch, and propensity for bringing out inner voices thrive like crazy in this repertoire’ ClassicsToday.com