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Shura Cherkassky captivates audience at Jordan Hall


At Jordan Hall.

Friday, Oct. 5, 8 pm.


SHURA CHERKASSKY DEMONSTRATED once again why he is considered the last of the great romantic piano players after captivating a mixed audience in a recent concert at the New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.

Born in the Soviet Union, the 79-year-old pianist emigrated to the United Studies to study with the renowned Josef Hofmann, himself a pupil of the famous Russian pianist and composer, Anton Rubenstein. His debut concert tour in 1923 included appearances with Walter Damrosch and the New York Symphony, and a performance at the White House for President Warren G. Harding.

Throughout his career, Cherkassky has toured in the prestigious music festivals

of Europe including Edinburgh, Salzburg, Bergen, and Vienna. Here in the United States, he appears with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony. In addition, Cherkassky's concert tours of the Far East have continued to spread his reputation internationally. His triumphant return to his native Russia in 1976 had great emotional significance, spawning subsequent tours in 1977 and 1987.

The Jordan Hall concert began with J. S. Bach's Partita No. 6 in E Minor. The piece includes seven contrasting segments beginning with the toccata, which functioned like a brief overture, followed by the allemande, a German dance in double time, and then acourante in triple time. An air or sonlike movement cleans the pallet, introducing a sarabande, a livelier gavotte, and then culminating with the gigue.

The piece that followed was Schubert's Four Impromputus in the keys of C Minor, G-flat Major, A-flat Minor, and the famous E-flat Major Impromptu, which includes unbelievably quick runs of triplets. Cherkassky's fingers flowed like a moving river, demonstrating a strong sense of lyricism. The hands were dynamic as the fingers danced throughout the keyboard. Unfortunately, the care that was endowed with each touch and blended together through a mixture of sounds was marred by the squeaky background of the pedals.

The Prokofiev Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major that followed began slowly, with a deceptive mechanical style. All of a sudden, Cherkassky exploded, pounding the chords as he sought to bring out the power of the piece. Cherkassky then followed with a Rachmaninoff Elegie which brought out his Russian heritage.

The next piece, El Salon Mexico, by Aaron Copland, was played too classically, which did not fit well with the Mexican beat. Cherkassky's classical training hurt him here, not allowing him to adapt to the Mexican style. The last song on the program was Liebeswaltzer by Moszkowski, which again showed the romantic interpretations Cherkassky is famous for.

Shura Cherkassky then delighted the audience with two encores, the first in which he played the famous Liszt Liebestraum. Closing with the Rachmaninoff Polka, Cherkassky finished the program by returning once again to his Russian roots

to demonstrate the sheer brilliance and romanticism Russian has continuously produced. With the end of the concert,

the audience demonstrated its approval through a standing ovation, showing once again the Cherkassky magic still works after seven decades.