shura in odessa

A film directed with veronique barbey


This is a private film document of pianist Shura Cherkassky (1909-1995) visiting Odessa in Ukraine for the last time in 1995.
During that short visit, the pianist, considered as the last of the Romantics, searched for the concert hall where he gave his first recital as a child before he and his family fled the Revolution and found refuge in Baltimore.
herkassky visits the apartment where he was born, the Odessa Philarmonic Orchestra led by Hobart Earle, the Opera house, the musical school of Stoliarsky and wanders around his birth city with friends. 
The movie starts at the Festival de Chopin in Nohant where Cherkassky performed in 1995.

Excerpt from New York Times’ article by llann Kozinn

Shura Cherkassky, 84, Pioneer of Romantic School, Dies.

He is said to have composed a five-act opera when he was 8, and to have conducted an orchestra in Odessa when he was 9, all in addition to giving frequent piano recitals and being hailed as a prodigy. When he left for New York, at the age of 11, he already had a manager to look after his affairs.

His hope was to study with Sergei Rachmaninoff, then his pianistic hero. But after an audition at Rachmaninoff’s home on Riverside Drive, the young pianist decided to look elsewhere. (…) Yet he was a completely commanding figure on the concert stage.

His performances of standard repertory works by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Mussorgsky and Liszt were invariably packed with idiosyncratic twists and turns that made his readings incendiary, and when he played virtuosic Strauss waltz transcriptions by Godowsky and Schulz-Evler, or essays in tone color by Balakirev or Hofmann, he could create the impression that he possessed more than two hands.”

listen to shura perform



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