Shura Cherkassky | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Shura Cherkassky 

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At age 83, pianist Shura Cherkassky qualifies as a legend by default: almost all of his near contemporaries--from Vladimir Horowitz to Claudio Arrau--are gone, leaving the Odessa-born virtuoso as the last link to the grand 19th-century romantic tradition. His greatest influences were his mother, a piano teacher who had played for Tchaikovsky, and Josef Hofmann, a pupil of Anton Rubinstein and one of the renowned interpreters of Chopin's music. A child prodigy, Cherkassky started his hectic concert career more than 70 years ago, after his family emigrated to New York; he once performed in the White House for Warren Harding. While Horowitz and Arthur Rubinstein were alive, the less flamboyant Cherkassky never quite achieved their kind of celebrity status; these days, as the last of a dying breed, he's loaded up with accolades and recording contracts. Cherkassky still doesn't enthrall his audiences the way the other titans of the keyboard did, but he plays a lot more emotionally than most of today's technique-oriented players. At this recital he's bound to milk the pathos and impetuosity of Chopin's mazurkas and nocturnes and the theatrical bravura of Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies. Also on the program: Piano Sonata in E Minor by Haydn, Bach's intricate Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D Minor, and the neobaroque Third Sonata of Hindemith. Sunday, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.

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