"Some people like my playing, and some perhaps don't. But I don't think anybody can call me boring." - Shura Cherkassky
Boring, no. But at one point or another just about every other descriptor was used to describe the unique and profoundly original playing of the Russian-born pianist who had a seven-decade performing career. Try this: “He is instinctive, fragementary, an improviser and a troubadour, an artist of half-tints, delicate pastels, Romantic vibrations… with a golden tone, bubbling with joy, humour, and even shenanigans.”
Cherkassky was all that – and more. He was born in 1909 in Odessa, but didn’t make his Russian debut until 1976. In between, he came to America, played at the Warren G. Harding White House, and toured the world. For decades, Cherkassky’s throwback style was out of favor. He lived mostly in London and recorded for a number of small labels, making acclaimed recordings of Chopin and others that were revered by connossieurs and largely ignorned in America.
But in his 70s and 80s, Shura Cherkasssky, he of the quirky personality and matchless Chopin interpretations, became the Last Romantic Standing. Honors, accolades, and superlatives ensued, right up until his death in 1995. Wrote one critic about Cherkassy’s Chopin, “He is like a magician at the keyboard, conjuring up near-miraculous sounds that most assiduous listener may hear once in a lifetime from another pianist.” Shura Cherkasssky: A Great Chopinist. - Mike McKay & Benjamin K. Roe