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Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1 / Rachmaninoff: Concerto No.2
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I have listened to over thirty recordings of the Tchaikovsky first piano concerto, and two stand out: Gary Graffman (with Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra) and this Cliburn recording. He has all the piano technique for total mastery of this work---rapid and precise octaves, nimble fingerwork (particularly the presto middle section of the 2nd movement), a big sound (the opening allegro non troppo section), and a strong sense of the folk music basis for the main theme of the 3rd movement. Furthermore, only he and Graffman on record nail the notoriously tricky rhythmic pattern beginning the allegro con spirito main section of the 1st movement. He keeps careful balance with the orchestra throughout, and never resorts to excessive use of the pedal to cover up technical difficulties. Moreover, the performance is polished and intensely musical in every passage.
If you can tolerate an orchestra that isn't always impressive, then buy this Van Cliburn recording and be totally amazed!Read more ›
We often focus on Cliburn's victory in the Soviet Union as a uniquely American victory. A lanky Texan walked into the Soviet Union, our Cold War enemy, and played Russian music to a severely discerning Russian audience, completely bowling them over. Khrushchev had to give permission to the judges to give Cliburn the Gold Medal because it represented such an embarassment to the Soviet Union to have their pianists lose to an American.
In truth, it was also a victory for the Russians. To find that their music could be played with such understanding and depth by a young man so culturally and geographically removed from the Russian people proved that Russian music is universal -- it transcends cultural boundaries. That an American could be taught to play Russian music so brilliantly could only mean that Russian music was so great and compelling that it could speak to the soul of any human being regardless of his or her background.
In other words, it was a win-win situation for America and Russia, and this recording of the Tchaikovsky concerto becomes the place of meeting where both Russians and Americans can celebrate. Having Kiril Kondrashin, the famed Soviet conductor, lead the orchestra only serves to make that point even clearer.
This extra-musical element has always imbued Cliburn's recording with a sense of occasion.Read more ›
Last September, I saw this man play with the University of Iowa symphony orchestra the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 and I was simply amazed. I was hoping the historic recording he made would be as good as the his terrific performance of the concerto......It found out it was. This is the concerto that made Cliburn known throughout the world if you ask me. If he hadn't have played this terrific concerto back in 1958 in the Tchaikovsky competition (which he won by the way), he would probably not have been as famous as he is. So, you should definitely here this magnificant pianist play the song that made who he is today. Plus, the concerto itself is so great anyway. Right when you hear Cliburn smashing away the chords to open the beautiful melody of the concerto, you'll be locked into it. Seriously. Now onto Rachmaninoff. Possibly the greatest pianist of the 20th century (i think he is anyway). There is a great story to the Rach's 2nd piano concerto. In 1897, when the composer debuted his first symphony, it was so poorly conducted by the conductor (who wasn't rach) it made people hate it. Rachmaninoff became so depressed afterwards, he couldn't compose, play, or even think about touching a key on the piano. He sought treatment from a hypnotist that always told him everyday that when he was cured he would write a masterpiece. Dr. Nikolai Dahl (the hypnotist) was abosolutely right. After treatment, Rachmaninoff wrote the 2nd concerto, now thought to be his masterpiece. I haven't heard the composer's recording of this great concerto, but Cliburn's recording will have you breatless through his playing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I used to have an LP recording, but finally decided I should own this historical recording of the Tchaikovsky 1st on CD. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Robert W. Byington
Excellent experience. Turn out the lights, adjust the volume to your tastes and have an audio feast for the senses.Published 6 months ago by Dan B.
Two of the most wonderful songs ever written played by the masterful Van Cliburn. He has a touch that is rare and beautiful. We really, really like this disk.Published 8 months ago by Kitten