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Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 - Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2

Van Cliburn, RCA Symphony Orchestra & Chicago Symphony Orchestra

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Album Review

It is here for the first time the listener witnesses the masterful talents of the young pianist Van Cliburn, a native of rural Texas. This record displays his engaging presence and enthralling melodic technique after his thrilling victory in the premiere International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in April of 1958. With overwhelming passion and remarkable deliverance of musical clarity, Van Cliburn performs a stirring rendition of Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor." Cliburn performed a series of concerts in leading cities immediately following the Moscow competition, and Alan Kayes' album notes printed on the record's back cover state that, according to reports from Russia, "Not within living memory has a musician, regardless of nationality, had such an impact on the critical, sophisticated Soviet metropolitan audiences." During his first showing at the competition's preliminaries, Cliburn caused a sensation. Word got through Russia of his quality of charm, passion, and daring image at the piano. The finals were set for April 11, in which he played Tchaikovsky's "First Concerto" and Rachmaninov's "Third" with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra under the conduction of Kiril P. Kondrashin with a shimmering brilliance. The results where positive and left the audience intrigued and ecstatic. "The crowd then chanted in unision, 'First-prize! First-prize!' for their adored favorite," notes Kayes.

This record is a perfect reflection of Van Cliburn's accomplishment, one that later found him playing a series of recitals in the United States, including twice in Carnegie Hall before capacity audiences. His concert in Philadelphia resulted in a standing ovation, unprecedented in the history of the Academy of Music. This record is a masterful piece of art, filled with the beauty and eloquence of a artist whose playing reaches the highest level of classical musicianship. Van Cliburn is most revered for his electrifying octave passages, and his ability to produce a tremendous variety of volume and tone. "He could, if he desired, make a magnificent impression as a master of the showier side of his art," noted Winthrop Seargent in his article for The New Yorker. "But the most arresting thing about his playing is his mastery of other things — the tasteful and assured use of rubato in the style of the distinguished virtuosos of the past, the delicacy in executing pianissimos, the sure sense of musical phraseology, the feeling for restraint as well as climax, and all the remaining elements of musical sensitivity that go to make up a superb keyboard artist."

Customer Reviews

One of the Greats!

This is one of the single most paramount performances the great Van Cliburn played! I'm so excited it's available on itunes! THANK YOU!!!

The one and only!

Timeless and absolutely genius recording of the historic performance that got Van Clibern a first prize at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow (1958). During the full bloom of the Cold War. He proved that Cold War does not exist between artists, or in music. It is only between the Governments. This event was talked about for decades after, including my years at Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and I am sure years after. The young guy from Texas showed everyone in world, including the most conservative musical circles in Russia how to play their own composer's music. And they believed him, and he won! This was equal to fall of the Art Berlin Wall! If you love Classical Music you owe to yourself to get this!

Life time of Inspiration

My mom died in 1961, I was 8 years old. Shorty after my Dad a classical music lover took me to Interlochen Arts Camp to hear Van Cliburn with the International Youth Orchestra. The moon light over the water in the back ground was magical. That moment carried me through many a dark times. I became a life long fan. My daughter played oboe with the Concert orchestra when she was 14, long ago now but what wonderful memories remain of a once in a century talent. R.I.P. V.C.

Biography

Born: July 12, 1934 in Shreveport, LA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Pianist Van Cliburn was arguably the most celebrated classical performer of the modern era, renowned for his flawless technical prowess and unparalleled romantic sensibility. Born Harvey Lavan Cliburn, Jr. in Shreveport, Louisiana, on July 12, 1934, he first took up piano at the age of three, learning the instrument from his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, herself an accomplished performer; in 1938 the family relocated to Kilgore, Texas, and there the young boy gave his first public recital,...
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