Customer Review

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great performance, March 10, 2006
This review is from: Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 / Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3 (Audio CD)
Rachmaninoff's Third is the ultimate show-off piece for pianists; so Cliburn, like every new kid on the block, had to record it. Instead of the usual dazzling-but-vapid debut performance, though, he turned out one for the ages.

Cliburn's basic approach is to play with restraint and poetry most of the time, but pull out all the stops for the big climaxes. This makes those passages all the more climactic, giving the Concerto plenty of "punch" while replacing a lot of tiresome hyperbole with lyric beauty. This approach makes masterful use of the alternate cadenza, played to perfection (well, almost; it's a bit muddy at the end, but that's all!).

It's a great performance, but those who merely want to hear someone pounce on the Concerto like a tiger and swallow it whole (as the composer said of Horowitz) will be far happier with Argerich, whose tigress credentials are the stuff of legend.

Horowitz himself seems not to have had much "pounce" left in him by the time he and Ormandy made their CD; nonetheless, that one's a "must" for the afficionado because (among other things) it highlights many details of the score glossed over (or even cut) in other performances. The dead, staccato ambiance of the Horowitz CD (don't buy it just because it's digital!) is actually an advantage insofar as nothing much is washed out by reverberation. But musically it doesn't match Cliburn. Nor does Ashkenazy (though he gets better sound).

I'm volunteering my comments because nobody else did yet and this is a great performance; I don't have the SACD disc. I'd be amazed if even the revamped sound is top-notch, though, since the previous CD and the LP fell so far short in recording quality. Likewise, since I'm not a Prokofiev fan I won't comment on that piece. The value of the Rachmaninoff performance overrides these concerns.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 15, 2011 8:26:27 PM PST
close reader says:
Just want to add my vote for the Cliburn Rach3. I also like the Horowitz and Volodos recordings, but for me this one is the most completely satisfying. I have at least half a dozen different recordings but this one brings piano and orchestra together far more beautifully than any of the others.
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