(Note: For the first time in nine years of operation, we depart from our policy against anonymous reviews, to run this brief moving tribute from a colleague.)
On occasion many have found Russell Sherman’s interpretations to border on the eccentric and cross into the indulgent, rather than embody revelation, which is how his early concerts could be accurately described, and were.
But last Sunday’s recital was simply staggering. Even setting aside his infirmities—he now walks only with great difficulty and appears frail—once seated at the piano he delivered a quite astonishing rendering of the great Beethoven sonatas Opp. 90, 101, and 111, and the Rondo in G major, Op. 51 no. 2.
Yes, his overpedaling is still a mystery, but intruded less this time. The 88.5-year-old made virtually no errors, and that was just the baseline. It all felt valedictory: the summation of a lifetime inhabiting these works. Opp. 101 and 111 came down to us from a realm most of us can hardly imagine, much less reach. Sherman played with great power, imagination, spontaneity, and wisdom.
It was a culmination of a career devoted to a singular mission. The few dry eyes in the hall at the end did not include mine.