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Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Stravinsky / Cherkassky, Et Al


Release Date: 10/30/2007 
Label:  Medici Masters   Catalog #: 13   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Sergei ProkofievDmitri ShostakovichAbram ChasinsFrancis Poulenc,   ... 
Performer:  Shura CherkasskyHerbert Menges
Conductor:  Herbert Menges
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No. 2. SHOSTAKOVICH Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and Strings & Shura Cherkassky (pn); Herbert Menges (tpt); cond; Philharmonia O MEDICI 13, mono (70:04)


& CHASINS 3 Chinese Pieces. POULENC Toccata. Read more class="COMPOSER12">STRAVINSKY Circus Polka. BEETHOVEN Bagatelle in g, op. 119/1


The concertos, new to CD like the solo items, are from 1954/55, and if you expect an atmospheric, historical recording from 10 years earlier, you won’t be disappointed. I was hoping for a sonic improvement here, but this sounds exactly the same as my ancient HMV LP. That’s an achievement in itself by the engineers, but the piano sound was always a bit plummy, the orchestra slightly better caught. That said, I wouldn’t be without any Cherkassky record, and it’s great to hear these old friends without scratches and frying noises, courtesy of Medici, the people behind BBC Legends. Presentation is just the same as on the BBC CDs. I hope Medici gives us many more.


These were pioneering recordings. Cherkassky’s playing in the Shostakovich is highly detailed in terms of phrasing and dynamics, ultra-sensitive to the required mood, including, in the Allegro, a few bars with a genuine barrelhouse feel. No other pianist quite pulls that off, but Cherkassky’s quiet, fast playing is also remarkable, and the overall tone is very serious. A brief aside here for Maria Grinberg’s unbeatably crazy Russian recording of this concerto, should it cross your path.


Back to London in 1955: Jackson was a splendid trumpeter, but Menges directs both concertos in rather a careful, routine manner. Cherkassky accompanies the orchestra very sensitively when required, but the lack of a really stimulating partnership helps account for the 50-year neglect of these uneven interpretations, which don’t hang together well. The solo passages work best: the cadenzas in the Prokofiev are excellent, but the dark detailing in Cherkassky’s view of the entire solo part, especially of the final Allegro, bears careful study.


The short solo pieces from 1956 are not much better recorded. The Chasins suite, from 1926, is reason enough to buy the CD for Cherkassky fans, attractive music in a post-Debussy manner. The three pieces are played with warmth, panache, and also humor, in the absurdly fast “Rush Hour in Hong Kong.” I find the insistent Stravinsky arrangement highly annoying, but there’s nothing wrong with the playing.


Cherkassky was outstanding, but somehow slipped through the net of the recording world. He left few uniformly good discs, and here’s another one. I saw him very late, live, still good, but it’s a shame Nimbus didn’t catch him earlier in his career. I saw him again, later still: a dapper, attentive, and anonymous audience member at a Nikolayeva Bach recital. He looked ever-inquisitive, serious, and elegant. Reservations apart, you’d better grab this one now if you’ve an abiding interest in the history of Prokofiev and Shostakovich piano interpretation, in Chasins, and/or Cherkassky.


FANFARE: Paul Ingram
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Works on This Recording

1.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in G minor, Op. 16 by Sergei Prokofiev
Performer:  Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Conductor:  Herbert Menges
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913/1923; USSR 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 30 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (1954 - 1955) 
2.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C minor, Op. 35 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Herbert Menges (Trumpet), Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Conductor:  Herbert Menges
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; USSR 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 21 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (11/16/1954 - 1955) 
3.
Chinese Pieces (3) by Abram Chasins
Performer:  Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 8 Minutes 34 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (03/21/1956 - 03/22/1955) 
4.
Pieces (3) for Piano: no 2, Toccata by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928/1953; France 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (03/21/1956 - 03/22/1955) 
5.
Circus Polka by Igor Stravinsky
Performer:  Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Date of Recording: 08/10/1955 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording. 
6.
Bagatelles (11) for Piano, Op. 119: no 1 in G minor, Allegretto by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Shura Cherkassky (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1820-1822; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studios, London 
Length: 2 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: This selection is a stereo recording.
EMI Abbey Road Studios, London (03/21/1956 - 03/22/1955) 

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