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Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 14, 23 & 26, Opp. 13, 27:2, 57, 81a

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 30, 1990
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Editorial Reviews

The use of extreme dynamics is a distinguishing characteristic of the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Very often, he will leave no transitional clue where the next contrast will be, which provides an exciting aural experience for the listener. Beethoven also uses multi-octave ranges and turn-on-a-dime tempo changes to create tension in his compositions. Cliburn displays a deft feel for all of Beethoven's compositional "devices," particularly on the first track of the disc, the "Moonlight" Sonata. According to the CD's extensive program notes, the "Moonlight" Sonata "marks the beginning of a period when Beethoven produced increasingly experimental works, emancipating himself from the expected sonata-form first movement and substituting freer forms..." This could explain the huge popularity of the first movement of Moonlight-titled "Sonata quasi una fantasia" (roughly translated that means "sonata almost like a dream") by the composer. Or perhaps it is the dream-like nature of the persistent arpeggios of the left hand that draws listeners in. Regardless of the reason, as played by Van Cliburn, the "Moonlight" Sonata is a transcendent work.
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4:42
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2
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2:26
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6:08
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9:33
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5:30
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6
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4:48
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7
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7:08
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8
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3:19
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9
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5:37
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10
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10:21
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11
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6:11
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 30, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • ASIN: B000003EZB
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,018 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ron Jackson on October 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've listened to many recordings of Beethoven's piano sonatas: Brendal, Gould, Arrau, Kempff, Serkin, Horowitz, and so many others. For me, Cliburn's playing is both clean and totally understands the emotions of the master without being maudlin. I find his coloring less muddled than most, as well. The only pianist better at Beethoven of the big names is Arrau to me. I find Van Cliburn is highly underrated by most people.
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Format: Audio CD
In 1958, at the height of the Cold War, American pianist Van Cliburn drew an eight-and-a-half minute standing ovation from a exhilarated Russian audience with his performance of "Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor" at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Ultimately, Cliburn won the Grand Prize at the event and his victory made front page news worldwide. With a swell of nationalistic pride, the US citizens celebrated his return with a ticker-tape parade in New York City-an honor that has yet to be given to any other classical musician.
Cliburn went on to a rigorous touring and recording career, during which he played many of the classic works that became the "Van Cliburn Collection" on the RCA Victor record label. Then, surprising his fans and colleagues, in 1978 he took an extended "intermission" from concert and recording activities for a much-needed break to restore his creative energies. When Cliburn finally returned to the stage in 1989, it was to sold-out appearances in Philadelphia and Dallas, as well as triumphal concerts in Leningrad and Moscow. To commemorate Cliburn's return to public life, on January 30, 1990, RCA Victor reissued the classic recording, Beethoven Sonatas, on compact disc.
The use of extreme dynamics is a distinguishing characteristic of the compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Very often, he will leave no transitional clue where the next contrast will be, which provides an exciting aural experience for the listener. Beethoven also uses multi-octave ranges and turn-on-a-dime tempo changes to create tension in his compositions. Cliburn displays a deft feel for all of Beethoven's compositional "devices," particularly on the first track of the disc, the "Moonlight" Sonata.
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OK, I am going to out myself here, four days a week, I am a classical music host on our local public radio station and I have this CD in my personal collection. My family also suffered through 8-long years of me taking piano lessons back in the 60's and 70's. Guess what, I am also old; but it beats the alternative.
I don't know who would have the audacity to give the Late Van Cliburn four-stars. Four-Stars, really? People like you give classical music fans a bad name. Van gets five for even walking on a stage or in the recording booth. So there!
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After he became a culture hero of the Cold War by bringing home the gold from the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, Van Cliburn led a double life, musically speaking. to a generation of worshipful fans he was a can-do-no-wrong artist, and RCA milked his popularity with mega-selling recordings. But serious music lovers and critics sniffed around him and found the musicality one-dimensional and at times callow. The marvel that a virtuoso could emerge from Texas, with a background that seemed like any American kid taking piano lessons from an old lady, had the serious drawback that he turned into an outsider, divorced from the mainstream of musical culture.

This is made painfully clear by the first work on this program, one of the worst "Moonlight" sonatas one is likely to encounter. Everything goes wrong from the outset, with the Adagio sostenuto taken as a quick-flowing andante instead, without atmosphere and with much clumsy phrasing. But that is nothing compared wit the wooden fingers applied to the second movement; only a good-enough finale offers hope of redemption. This outsider was charismatic in big bow wow concertos, but the solo repertoire could leave him clueless. In the "Pathetique" Sonata the overall shape of the first movement is satisfactory, but there's no imagination or personality, hardly an interpretation, in fact. Beethoven wasn't know for is melodic gifts, but in the second movement of this sonata we meet an immortal melody - one of his few - and Cliburn's rendition, although far from magical, is direct and unadorned by fussiness. the best movement is the finale, done with a bit too much sobriety but coming off in a nice balance of vivacity and technical assurance.

"Les Adieux" fares about the same.
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