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Customer Reviews

21
My Favorite Brahms
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
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!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2001
I myself am a HUGE Brahms fan. This recording brings us perhaps some of the most beautiful music ever written for piano.
Van Cliburn's interpretation is simply amazing. He can be as soft and subtle as any, while at the same time can play with vigor and fury. I frequently consult this disk for new ideas or perhaps different views.
The quality of the recording is spectacular - crisp, clear, and beautiful.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2000
Recorded between 1970 and 1975, this compilation features powerful, sensitive, and most of all, very musical renditions of these great Romantic pieces. Van Cliburn is very much at home in this repertory (remember it was the Tchaikovsky Piano concerto that made him famous). The sound quality is truly amazing, due no doubt, to the excellent analogue source tape, as well as the 24-bit 96Khz remaster. Seventy-plus minutes of impressive pianism, all for about 12 bucks...
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2006
One really is at first simply stunned by the sound of the piano. These recordings are 30 years old and sound as good or better than a lot of what gets released today.

And then there is the artist himself. I had never taken Cliburn for a Brahmsian. But there are so many wonderful performances on this CD. Take Op. 118 #6 for example. At first hearing, I thought Cliburn was being interpretive. Then I got out my piano edition of Brahms. And it was marked staccato just as Cliburn played it.

More than just being straight with the music, is the beautiful piano tone and lyrical concentration that Van Cliburn brings to his Brahms.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2006
but I can tell you I love it. Brahms--maybe my favorite composer. Van Cliburn--easily my favorite pianist. It doesn't get much better than this in my book. Beautiful music beautifully performed. What more can you ask for?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2008
I played some of these pieces and especially love Van Cliburn's interpretation of the Ballad in G Minor as well as the Intermezzo in E.

Van Cliburn makes this piano music sound so easy. It is very difficult and well played with expression and appropriate rhythm.

The sound and tonality of this piano is excellent and well recorded.

I highly recommend this for anybody who wants a top performance of Brahm's piano music.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I'm a former classical musician who doesn't listen to much classical music anymore. That said, I adore Brahms piano music, and this is a wonderful recording. Beautifully performed, not overly sappy or sentimental, Van Cliburn has a wonderfully balanced approach to Brahms' stunning romantic music. For those of you who have mixed feelings about classical music, this is a wonderful alternative to the "New Age" piano music so popular right now (and which I enjoy as well). Perfect backdrop to a romantic dinner for two, sipping wine on the veranda - give it a try!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2008
There are, of course, many wonderful interpreters of Brahms piano music. Rubenstein is also good. I think Glen Gould is the worst. Van Cliburn captures a tenderness that I don't hear in any other performances. there is no loss of structure or phrase shaping in his playing he simply plays Brahms as if it were late romantic piano music. Which, of course, it is.
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on August 21, 2014
In Lower Manhattan, near the site where George Washington resided as our nation's first president, is a bronze plaque imbedded in the sidewalk, commemorating Van Cliburn's ticker-tape parade down Broadway. The parade was in 1958, immediately after Cliburn's return from Russia, where he had just won the First International Tchaikovsky Piano competition. At age 23, Cliburn had scaled the peaks. His face was on the cover of Time magazine, he was signed to an exclusive contract with RCA records, and he was about to record what many believe to be definitive accounts of Tchaikovky's Piano Concerto No. 1, and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concertos No. 2 and No. 3.

By the mid-1960s, however, it seemed the light that illumined his incredible talent had (according to some critics) dimmed. Or had it? Judging by his performances on "My Favorite Brahms," they had not. Far from it. Recorded in the 1970s, Cliburn's take on Brahms' solo piano music is spellbinding. He connects with Brahms in a way few pianists ever have. His forthright style of pressing deep within the keys--as opposed to skimming over them as so many do--suits Brahms perfectly. Brahms was a man without pretension, and his music calls for playing that lacks pretension, which was Cliburn's forte. Cliburn never ruminates, never searches for something that isn't in the score. His playing is honest, direct, and deeply felt.

Johannes Brahms wrote for the piano throughout his life. His first acknowledged masterpieces were for the piano, among them the Scherzo in E-Flat Major, Op. 4, that first attracted the attention of both Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt. Brahms was 20. With encouragement from the likes of Schumann and Liszt, he went on to write world-class chamber music, concertos, serenades, and symphonies, but he always returned to the piano. The music on this CD is mostly from late in his career. It's both sad and sweet, wistful and hopeful, nostalgic and forward-looking. Four of the six Opus 18 pieces are here, which many consider Brahms' finest piano writing. Among my favorites are the three Rhapsodies (Op. 79, No. 1 and 2, and Op 119, No. 4). Digitally remastered in Weiss 24/96 technology, the sound is glorious. Five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2009
I remember him winning the piano competition in Moscow back in the '50s. I've always loved his playing and decided to research and get CD's of his music. Not easy. I was glad to find these three. Thanks.
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