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Benjamin Britten

Shura Cherkassky plays Britten’s ‘Holiday Diary’

1965. Cheltenham Town Hall
Shura Cherkassky plays one of Britten's early compositions and one of his rare works for solo piano.
Composer Benjamin Britten
Pianist Shura Cherkassky
Genre Recital

Benjamin Britten was one of the most sensitive pianists of his time, but his output for solo piano was surprisingly meagre.  Holiday Diary was written in 1934, shortly after he had left the Royal College of Music, and was originally dedicated to his piano teacher there, Arthur Benjamin (later re-dedicated to Clifford Curzon).  Britten was living with his parents in Lowestoft and these pieces reflect the sounds and summer activities he experienced in this seaside town.  They display Britten’s early talent for writing vividly descriptive music that never left him, particularly in his many operas.

Shura Cherkassky was born in Odessa in 1909 but his family fled Russia in the shadow of the Revolution and settled in the Untited States.  His early life introduced him to pianistic aristocracy – his mother played, for Tchaikovsky, he studied under Josef Hofmann and auditioned for Rachmaninov.  In his long career he encompassed a wide repertoire, but he is particularly associated with the romantic and virtuoso schools.  On the platform he displayed an impish sense of humour and this serves him well in bringing Britten’s light-hearted pieces to life.

Cherkassky settled in London in 1961 and lived there until his death in 1995.

Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)

Holiday Diary

  1. Early Morning Bath
  2. Sailing
  3. Fun-Fair
  4. Night

This recording is taken from a concert given at the Cheltenham Festival on July 6 1965.

It is from the Saul Collection at Music Preserved.

  • Shura Cherkassky

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