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Mordecai Shehori (piano): The Celebrated New York Concerts - Volume 7
Track listing below review
rec. May 1979 (Chopin Polonaise); September 1980 (Moszkowski); January 1982 (Clementi, Bach-Marcello), 92nd Street Y, NYC and June1989 (Khachaturian, Chopin Mazurka); May 1990 (Tchaikovsky, Liszt) Weill Recital Hall, NYC
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD 172 [69:03]

Mordecai Shehori’s series of New York concert performances – the discs offer a sequence of music from various concerts given over the years – has now reached volume 7. There are two locations, the 92nd Street Y, and Weill Recital Hall. The performances range in date from 1979 – Chopin’s famous Polonaise in A flat minor – to 1990, where he played Tchaikovsky’s Sonata in G major and Liszt’s Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, a nice programming conceit.
 
The disc starts with Clementi and his Sonata in F sharp minor, Op.26 No.2 in a live performance at the Y in January 1982. Shehori has already released recordings of many of Clementi’s Op.36 set, and has been an enthusiastic performer of the composer’s work. He plays finely here, refined and elegant, with some strong dynamic variance, poetic in the central movement – where he overcomes a few coughs – and full of clarity and impulse in the finale, which is rewarded with applause. It’s a pity that the live recording is a bit chilly. Tchaikovsky’s Grande Sonate – played so dramatically by Richter - is a tougher nut to crack, a powerful four-movement work that demands considerable reserves of technique and colouristic control. Shehori’s big-boned but not cavalier playing has strong accelerandi and chordal power in the opening movement and warmly sympathetic phrasing in the slow movement. The performance throughout, in fact, is distinctive and shows real affinity. The Liszt Onegin Polonaise is played with dash and brio.
 
According to a note from the pianist himself, this performance of Khachaturian’s Vocalise – his last work, it seems – was a world premiere, given at Weill Recital Hall in June 1989. Brief though it is, it’s a touching example of late Khachaturian, and is conspicuously well played here.
 
There is a sequence of ‘encores’ tracked at the end of the disc. The Bach-Marcello Adagio was often played by Shehori’s teacher, Mindru Katz. Indeed there is a recording of him playing it on Cembal d’amour. Shehori gives it more space to breathe than his teacher and plays a broken chord variant ending, with sounds pretty – though I prefer the way Katz did it and, indeed, Earl Wild in his own version. Old School dazzle appears via Moszkowski’s Etude in F major, beloved of Horowitz, and we end with two pieces by Chopin – that Polonaise, strongly done in slightly brittle sound, and the Mazurka in G minor.
 
This is an enjoyable continuation of Shehori’s live concert series.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 
Track listing
Muzio CLEMENTI (1752-1832)

Sonata in F sharp minor, Op.26 No.2 [11:44]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
‘Grande Sonate’ in G minor, Op.37 (1878) [31:22]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903-1978)
Vocalise [3:45]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin S429 (1880) [6:40]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Adagio from Keyboard Concerto in D minor arr. Marcello [4:05]
Moritz MOSZKOWSKI (1854-1925)
Etude in F major, Op.72 [1:34]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Mazurka in G minor, Op.24 No.1 [2:52]
Polonaise in A flat major, Op.53 Heroic [6:52]