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Clouded Eye

November 28, 1987

Daniel Cariaga's review of the piano concert by Shura Cherkassky at Ambassador Auditorium ("Veteran Pianist at Ambassador," Nov. 20) brings to mind the old saying: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." But it seems to me that his eye for beauty that evening was somewhat more clouded than usual.

Cherkassky has long had a reputation for very free interpretation, doing as he pleases and not always as the composer says. This is supposed to be the "grand old tradition" of romantic piano playing. Cariaga was quick to say that this time that reputation was "utterly unearned." What I heard was more often than not quite the opposite.

In piece after piece, Cherkassky substituted his notions for the composer's. What Cariaga approved as a "pre-Impressionistic haze" in Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, I condemned as a capricious misreading of Franck's typical seriousness and organlike coloring. What Cariaga applauded in Schumann's "Carnaval" as "new and fresh," I regarded as, what was too often for musical comfort, the diametrical opposite of what the composer had indicated.

JACK W. CHAIKIN

Palm Desert

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