The interpretation of Robert Schumann’s Kreisleriana, in fact, is rather far from any record reference. The eight fantasies interpreted by the Israeli pianist, seem exiles fleeing on a raft; they leave the romantic island to return home, to Beethoven precisely. It is probably not the most orthodox of interpretations, but absolutely coherent in the formal and emotional context in which it is inserted. The same applies to Chopin’s beautiful third ballad and the nocturne that follows as encore.
We are faced with a meticulous craftsman of sound and a great artist. Saleem Ashkar polishes each note with pumice stone, until it sparkles. Every single sound shines with fawn brilliance. It is a succession of perfect sound marbles, one after the other, like in a cascade of pearls bouncing off the floor. Each note is intelligible, linked to the previous and subsequent as if none of those impulsive bounces were given to chance.
There is nothing random about Beethoven any more than there is anything random about Ashkar.
His signature style eschews any impressionist sensationalism in favor of a tonal and expressive balance that knows no fashion. It may seem rigorous but his music is pure, timeless, like a pearl, rare. Those who listen to it will be reflected inside.