Shura Cherkassky’s meld of technique and temperament almost guarantees that he will deliver compelling performances of the Romantics.
The Chopin items at his recital in Bulawayo on Saturday evening were suffused with poetry and brilliance.
Outstanding were the F minor and C sharp minor Mazurkas, where the high emotional pitch and rhythmic finesse of his playing neatly matched their febrile intensity.
Because Mr. Cherkassky is sometimes pigeonholed as a romantic specialist, his sharply focused, unexaggerated reading of the E flat Beerhoven Sonata, Op. 33, No. 3, came as something of a surprise. It was not without some personal touches, like some novel phrasing in the first movement, and heavily pointed ritardandi in the scherzo. It was all fresh, however, and undeniably convincing.
His was the first performance I have heard to attempt a literal realization of Beethoven’s marking – presto con fuoco – for the finale, and even if some tidiness was sacrificed, he certainly caught the music’s maverick humour.
The Schumann Symphonic Studies were full of marvelous touches. I could not help wondering, though, whether the final rondo would not have gained in impact if he had treated some of the earlier variations – the march specially – with less headlong enthusiasm.
The Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue in E minor proved an interesting curiosity. In the end, it left the taste of souped-up Bach.