Book Review: Shura Cherkassky - The Piano's Last Czar by Elizabeth Carrcategories: Books, Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Literature, Entertainers, pianist
Author: Elizabeth Carr
Publisher: Scarecrow Press
Brand: Brand: Scarecrow Press
An Incredible Story Incredibly ToldAny book about a pianist is always welcome, but this is especially true when it is such a well-written, fast-moving recital of a long and fascinating life. Drawing on extensive research and the insights gained in her twenty-year friendship with Shura Cherkassky, Elizabeth Carr has given a compelling picture of this enigmatic artist - no easy task. Although totally free and uninhibited on stage, Cherkassky was complex, private and often remote when away from his beloved piano. Carr has painstakingly marshaled the facts of Cherkassky's long performing and recording career but thankfully avoided the psychobabble and ax-grinding which has marred a couple of recent books about pianists. Through his letters to the author and additional documents, along with personal interviews of major figures in the music world, we learn of his frustrations, disappointments and frequent unhappiness. She has allowed Cherkassky himself to tell us about his homosexuality which, for me, had little to do with his uniqe artistry. There have been great pianists, gay and straight, but no one of any sexual persuasion who played quite like Shura Cherkassky.
The thoughtfulness and detail of the book is impressive, supplemented by Donald Manildi's meticulous discography, which, happily, is already slightly incomplete as other live Cherkassky performances are discovered and made available. This biography is a remarkable document, one to be savored and read more than once.
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