Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 / Rachmaninoff: Concerto No.2
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Tchaikovsky: Concerto No. 1/Rachmaninoff: Concerto No. 2
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Van Cliburn, Tchaikovsky concerto No. 1 in flat minior ofp. 23 Rachmaninoff: concerto No2 in Minor, Op.18 Fritz Reiner/Chicago Symphony Orchestra
What a story there is behind this recording! When Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at the height of the Cold War with his playing of this concerto, it created an international sensation. The recording followed immediately thereafter, and Cliburn was launched on an international career of unprecedented celebrity for a classical musician. Perhaps the attention was too much, too soon, given his subsequent burn-out and retirement from public life. Fortunately, we have these unique recordings to document what was, by all accounts, a genuine phenomenon. This is the disc "heard 'round the world." --David Hurwitz
Top Customer Reviews
To my ears, Tchaikovsky's "Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 23" and Rachmaninoff's "Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18" are two of the most ingeniously beautiful concerti ever written where the creative juices of the two of the most brilliant classical composers were utilized to the fullest.
Who could better play my favorite Tchaikovsky masterpiece than Van Cliburn who himself was the winner of Tchaikovsky competition held in Moscow in 1958? Time Magazine featured him on its cover after the much-acclaimed victory and described him as "The Texan Who Conquered Russia." A product of prestigious Julliard School of Music, Van Cliburn is undoubtedly one of the best classical pianists the world has ever known whose piano playing technique is truly exceptional. The mere fact that he can beautifully play Tchaikovsky's most sublime masterpiece and be a winner is an amazing accomplishment by itself. And an added pride in this wonderful recital is his being able to play another masterpiece from Rachmaninoff and still standout. Mr. Cliburn has an innate expressiveness that, to me, is a requisite to be an effective pianist. His piano playing is so powerful that it can command the listeners to lend an ear with their undivided attention to fully appreciate these two stupendous concerti note for note--all in three movements each.
Of the three movements of Tchaikovsky's "Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 23," my ears are drawn to the most charming movement, "Allegro non Troppo e Molto Maestoso." With its almost twenty-one minutes of playing time, it is simply a musical astonishment. This concerto is also my late father's favorite of favorites and he believed that it is the most incredible, ingenious piece of music of all classical compositions. I echo his opinion as I am greatly influenced by his musical tastes.
As for Rachmaninoff's "Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18," my favorite movement is "Allegro Scherzando." Its playing time is almost twelve minutes and listening to it is such a very enjoyable musical adventure from its first notes to the very last. This concerto is also a musical marvel.
On Tchaikovsky's concerto, Van Cliburn is backed by the RCA Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kiril Kondrashin and the Rachmaninoff pieces by Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Fritz Reiner.
For classical music lovers who appreciate the beautiful music of incredibly inspired minds of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and the amazing piano artistry of Van Cliburn, your musical journey wouldn't be as glorious as it is without this album in your collection. You'll love it as much as I do. It's 100% a keeper!
With my heartfelt recommendation.
* * * * *TEN STARS* * * * *
It reminds me of my reaction to a recording of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" that I caught mid-stream in the car on WRR radio in Dallas. It thought it was the worst ever. I thought it was rushed, crude and an insult to Gershwin's talent, and I was shaking my fist at the car radio. :-) Afterwards, the announcer came back on and said, "You have just listened, of course, to George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra, and the composer at the piano." Oh, mannnnnnnn! It was a very low-fidelity recording at 78 rpm. And it was "rushed" because ya just can't get that much recording on a side.
I've had Cliburn's recording of Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1, in B-flat minor, since it came out in 1958, as an RCA Victor Red Seal "New Orthophonic" High Fidelity Recording. That's before stereo and the fancy gizmos studios have today. It was then converted to "enhanced stereo" vinyl. Then it made it to 8-track, cassette and now on CD.
Why has it survived through all of these generations of technology? This recording is a classic worth keeping. Nakita Khruschev, the Soviet premier, wanted to show the world that the Soviet Union was a modern, progressive nation. One way of doing this, he thought, was to hold the First Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in April 1958. Van Cliburn, a 23-year-old from Kilgore, Texas, traveled to Moscow to compete. The Concerto No. 1, in B-Flat Minor, was one of his performances at the finals on April 11, 1958, with Kiril Kondrashin conducting the Moscow Radio Symphony.
Cliburn became a sinsation during the preliminaries, but at the finals the audience truly went wild. Legend has it that the judges really didn't want to give the competition's first grand prize to a young foreigner, or to any foreigner for that matter. But the audience wouldn't have it any other way and began chanting "first prize! First prize!" at the conclusion of Cliburn's performance of this Concerto.
Afterwards, Cliburn and Kondrashin, an "Honored Artist of the Republic," toured the United States with performances in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC. My vinyl record jacket isn't specific, but chances are good that this recording, now available on CD, was made either during rehersals or just after their performance in Carnegie Hall in New York, on May 19, 1958.
And Cliburn's preformance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 is a delightful bonus. That wasn't a possible combination on a single LP vinyl.