From the early 1960's Shura Cherkassky lived in a small cramped room in The White House Hotel London so it's perhaps not surprising that he broadcast regularly for the BBC. You could almost say that he was the BBC's `Pianist in Residence'. Cherkassky concertised internationally for a staggering 70 years plus and the Chopin works on this BBC Legends series disc are all taken from recitals he gave in the UK during the 1970s & 1980s. Astonishingly, an all-embracing recognition of Cherkassky's genius was slow in coming but his very longevity meant that eventually he became a legend in his own lifetime. Spontaneity was Cherkassky's life's - blood - not for him a fixed interpretation but a different slant on repeated passages and the teasing out of those `inner melodies' [the latter inherited from his legendary mentor Josef Hofmann]. They can all be heard in the present Chopin recital and it is amusing nowadays to see Cherkassky's critics describe his Chopin as `magical' rather than `mannered'. Perhaps a more correct description would be that his Chopin is often uniquely individual, idiosyncratic and yes `magically mannered'! More importantly, it is never routine or boring which is what is mainly on offer in recital these days. `I like surprises' Cherkassky once said, mischievously - and that is what he gave his adoring audiences. You can expect some delightful surprises in this recital too. The first is a rather straight account [for Cherkassky] of the famous Nocturne in E flat Op.9 No. 2 which is played, as are all the Nocturnes in this selection, with Cherkassky's gilt-edged singing tone. A richly glowing full-toned cantabile was always essential to Cherkassky's art. `Nowadays, pianists don't think about sound and quality of tone' Cherkassky once lamented. Cherkassky always thought in terms of beauty of sound and the Nocturne in D flat is absolutely ravishing in this respect as is the feeling of melancholy or tears behind the smile - `bittersweet' or `zal' as the Polish would say. The central section of the great Nocturne in C minor Op. 48 No.1 builds to a stormy climax with powerful double octaves but when the opening theme returns `doppio movimento' the difficult triplet accompaniment is too indistinct, Cherkassky relying too much on the projection of the melody. Cherkassky's playing of the Ballades 3 & 4 is superb. He often included them in his recital programmes and here they have a marvellous feeling of being recreated on the spur of the moment - as if he were relating some legendary tale of long ago. In the 4th Ballade especially, Cherkassky relishes the polyphonic lines of melody and he builds the work to a very exciting climax which receives a well deserved ovation. [incidentally, applause is kept to a minimum in this recording]. In Chopin's B flat minor scherzo Cherkassky brings out the strong dramatic contrasts [surprisingly, there are a couple of `clinkers'here] but in the scherzo in E major Cherkassky is in his element as he teases the music this way and that in his most infectious and capricious style. He is also in his element in two Chopin Waltzes - the vivacious Grande Valse Brillante in E flat Op. 18 and the favourite Waltz in C sharp minor Op 64 No.2 in which he brings out the tenor line in the style of Godowsky. Finally, as if in the style of an encore, Cherkassky plays the Etude in E major Op 10 No.3 .as beautifully expressive as one could have wished for and with a middle section that builds to a very impassioned climax. I do hope the BBC will delve into their archive for more Cherkassky recordings - possibly `live' performances of the Tchaikovsky concertos No. 1 & 2 [the latter in a Royal Albert Hall Prom from around 1959]. Also an early recording of Stravinsky's Petrouchka would be much appreciated. In their Legends series the BBC have already given us greats such as Gilels, Michelangeli, Curzon and the latest by Annie Fischer. Would they now give us a recital of Chopin & Liszt by another great Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Cziffra given on the BBC Third Programme, 3rd October, 1963. Thankyou.