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A Mixture of Light & Darkness
on February 2, 2001
Resting...now moving forward...then curling in on itself like a wave. Lightness...darkness...flowing...falling, then stopping to look down into the depths where it will finally rest, yet defiantly turning upward toward the light again.
I have tried to capture, in a few feeble words, what this music sounds like. One could not find a better musical interpretation of the Greek God Prometheus; who slowly dies from having his liver eaten, while chained to the rocks of the Caucasus Mountains, (Brahms died from a damaged liver as Prometheus did). This music shines forth a penetrating consciousness, only to be consumed by the quiet tranquility of an endless sleep. One hears this in the Capriccio in G Minor as well as many other pieces that begin assertively, but then suddenly grow into a deep yearning for rest.
I can't say enough good things about this CD. If this had been a complete collection of the late piano pieces, I would have to consider this a National Treasure. As I write these words I am listening to the Intermezzo in A, Op. 118 on track 7. What a wonderful way to say goodbye to the piano. What a wonderful way to say goodbye to life itself; since he was to give his life back to the universe from whence it came shortly after these pieces were composed.
When everything has been said and done. When your hopes and dreams of finding the perfect love have been laid to rest, as his must have, time becomes meaningless; and all that you have become and hope to be rests in perfect stillness and repose. This is the feeling one gets when listening to these works. It is so wonderful to see that Van Cliburn, like a true Romantic, understands this and makes no effort to crash around in these pieces in order to create a needless and unnecessary sense of excitement. All of the music here is handled with the utmost sensitivity and delicacy. And as the previous reviewer has stated, the recording quality is very pleasing, since it was originally recorded in analog and then remastered in digital. The original analog (tape) master gives the music a warmth that is fitting for what I consider some of the most important spiritual statements by a composer that have ever been made on the piano. I can't listen to this CD without getting a lump in my throat. This music is sure to stir up long forgotten emotions within you too!