BBC Legends – Shura Cherkassky [Carnaval]

0 of 5 stars

Andante and Rondo capriccioso, Op.14
Piano Sonata in A, D959
Carnaval, Op.9
Tchaikovsky, arr. Rachmaninov
Cradle Song, Op.16/1
Schumann, arr. Tausig
Der Kontrabandiste, Op.74/10

Shura Cherkassky (piano)

Recorded 1 November 1970 in Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

Reviewed by: Colin Clarke

Reviewed: April 2009
BBCL 4254-2
Duration: 77 minutes



too much, but the generally intimate ambience suits Cherkassky’s approach splendidly.

The multiple-personality aspect of Schumann’s Carnaval makes it perfect for Cherkassky. Contrasts within sections as well as between them are carefully drawn, but it is the eggshell fragility of moments such as ‘Eusebius’ that remain in the memory. It is in the tender parts, such as ‘Chiarina’ and ‘Chopin’ that Cherkassky excels. The final ‘Marche des Davidbündler contre des Philistins’ is magnificently haughty.

The encores are to be cherished. Cradle Song (Tchaikovsky arranged by Rachmaninov) is stock full of Russian melancholy, while the Schumann/Tausig glitters like fireflies; as a demonstration of old-school virtuosity it is exemplary. The recorded sound is a little woolly, but Cherkassky’s genius shines through.

1 thought on “BBC Legends – Shura Cherkassky [Carnaval]”

  1. There is a notable mistake in the labeling of this glorious BBC Legends recording by Cherkassky. And that is that the arrangement of the Tchaikovsky Op. 16 Cradle Song on the CD is *not* the one by Rachmaninoff (which, BTW, was Rachmaninoff’s last composition, in 1941—the Symphonic Dances, often stated inaccurately to be his last composition, date from the year before, 1940), but is the much earlier arrangement by Pavel Pabst. The two arrangements are distinctly different—Rachmaninoff’s goes much farther afield harmonically; Pabst’s hews closer to the original. Both arrangements are written in the unusual key of A-flat Minor (7 flats), as is Tchaikovsky’s original. The Pabst and the Rachmaninoff transcriptions are available in the Petrucci Music Library (at so that one can easily verify that Cherkassky is playing Pabst’s version. Cherkassky often played it as an encore, and marvelously. Every track on this CD is a gem—the playing of a great master, one of the last, of the Golden Age of the piano.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content