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Van Cliburn: Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto No 3; Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No 1 [Import]

Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky , Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky , Sergey Rachmaninov , Kyrill Kondrashin , Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Kyrill Kondrashin
  • Composer: Dmitry Borisovich Kabalevsky, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Sergey Rachmaninov
  • Audio CD (27 Oct 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Testament
  • ASIN: B001IT75G4
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,481 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Applause
2. Allegro Non Troppo E Molto Maestoso
3. Andante Semplice
4. Allegro Con Fuoco
5. Applause
6. Allegro Ma Non Tanto
7. Intermezzo: Adagio
8. Finale: Alla Breve
9. Rondo in A minor

Product Description

Tchaïkovski : Concerto pour piano n°1 op.23 - Rachmaninov : Concerto pour piano n°3 op.30 - Kabalevski : Rondo op.59 / Van Cliburn, piano - Orchestre Philharmonique de Moscou - Kyrill Kondrashin, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is the recording of the legendary performances that led to van Cliburn's competition victory, eventual stardom and a lasting position in the annals of musical fame. The recording was made in 1958 and has been re-mastered here by Testament.

As sound, there can be little doubt that this mono disc does not compete with most stereo and mono studio recordings made at the time and certainly falls far behind the remarkable standards achieved by the RCA engineers in the series of SACD issues. It sounds relatively old and that cannot be challenged. However, it also sounds vastly superior to older recordings being issued as archive material from previous periods.

What also cannot be challenged is the quality of the orchestral playing which suggests an orchestra of less than world class. It also preserves a quality of attentive and empathetic conducting by Kondrashin, on the other hand, which is most certainly world class.

The recorded balance is generally good although the rear desks of the orchestra, especially the brass and percussion, are placed at a disadvantage to the strings which are given sonic dominance. The piano is well focussed and of good tonal response throughout. This emphasis is in line with much of the orchestral writing of the two compositions and is not as damaging as one might imagine with other works.

However, this re-mastered issue is probably the very best that could possibly be achieved in the circumstances at the time and cannot hide the fact that this is not only just a world class performance but also one of unfailing star quality and inspiration throughout. Within moments of the start, the listener is transported into a completely rare musical world.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Performances by the Young Van Cliburn 5 Nov 2009
By David A. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
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I have more recordings of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto and the Rachmaninov Third that I can recall. There are even other fine recordings made by Van Cliburn of these concertos but this disc is an astonishing historical recording. On this CD is the final of the Tchaikovsky piano competition in April 1958 played by Van Cliburn. There is a palpable sense of history being made as one listens to these performances. The Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto is simply magnificent with Van Cliburn performing at the height of his powers. The first movement is played with such commitment that the audience erupts in applause. The show middle movement is lovingly played and the finale busts with energy and is as thrilling as any performance I have heard. The Rachmaninov Third Concerto is even more impressive with Van Cliburn performing the longer cadenza with such emotion that it is impossible not be feel the emotional impact.

The final piece on this disc, a Rondo by Kabalevsky, was written for the competition and was performed between the concertos during the actual competition. It is standard competition fare demonstrating ability more than being a memorable work. The disc preserves the applause of the audience and one can hear the coughs and sneezes of the audience. Fortunately, the coughing is not excessive. The Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra could certainly play better but one hardly notices the deficiencies with all of the energy and commitment of Van Cliburn. Cliburn does make his own mistakes during the performance that are noticeable but, again, one is impressed by the level of his playing.

The sound is mono but, other than the audience noise, the recording is clear. The notes by Bryce Morrison describe the political climate how Van Cliburn swept up the hearts of the Russian people. There is a photograph of Van Cliburn on the back of the booklet showing the pianist at the keyboard, bouquets of flowers covering the stage, surrounded by an adoring crowd.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get caught up in an historic musical moment 27 May 2010
By John K. Gayley - Published on Amazon.com
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This recording is special. Its a living historical document that formed the basis of legend. I was born the year after the competition, and my parents recounted it vividly (and frequently) as I grew up. The circumstances surrounding this competition, its occurrence in a specific time and place, and the outcomes, all are noteworthy. These all are well described in the accompanying program notes.

Like most historical documents, this one isn't perfect. Nonetheless, Testament has done a good job in cleaning up the less-than-ideal sound. To be sure, the orchestra still sounds thin at times, intonation isn't always the best. And Van Cliburn is hardly note-perfect either.

But the performances are just electrifying, and the excitement, palpable. For years I have played Van Cliburn's studio version of the Tchaikovsky, and tried to re-create in my head the excitement surrounding his actual competition performance. Now I don't need to imagine it. For this reason, I was most looking forward to the Tchaikovsky, since that formed the basis of the bedtime stories I heard from my parents. And it delivers. But in the end I was really blown away by the power and passion Van Cliburn put into the Rach 3...unbelievable for a 24 year old.

I've had many studio recordings of these warhorses (including, as mentioned, those made by Van Cliburn and Kondrashin shortly thereafter) but I feel this 1958 recording is a "must". The ecstatic applause after the first movement of the Tchaikovsky says it all about the spirit of the moment. Even the picture on the front cover of Van Cliburn being greeted by Shostakovich is enough to send chills. Enjoy.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Van Cliburn--Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, & Kabalevsky 8 Dec 2009
By H. Wend - Published on Amazon.com
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This is a wonderful CD. The digitally remastered sound is great and really gives you an appreciation of the fantastic performance that Van Cliburn gave at this competition. I highly recommend it!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He understood the music" 14 Sep 2011
By Ray - Published on Amazon.com
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It's difficult to understand the professional life of Van Cliburn. He just seemed to lose interest as he went along, or perhaps the pressure was just too much for him. As he himself said: "I was famous before I was good."

But actually, he was very good, and this CD is the best example of that. This is a live performance with the inherent excitement of that, plus being the final round of the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at a time when a Russian pianist was expected to win with all the drama that brings, plus being the favorite of the Russian audience and of some very very good Russian pianists who were judges (Gilels and Richter) driving him on, with the very solid support of conductor Kondrashin. It would be difficult to set the stage better, and Cliburn delivered extraordinarily well.

His Tchaikovsky concerto 1 was good, but I feel that both the Richter/Mravinsky/Leningrad Philharmonic 1959 and the Gilels/Reiner/Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1955 performances were better. Still a very good job.

But it's the Rachmininov concerto 3 which is so impressive. I own the 1951 recording on CD of Horowitz/Reiner which is very good, but this Cliburn performance is better. His sense of timing and rhythm, the flow of the music, subtle tasteful rubato, the mix of power and delicacy -- just excellent. I had the thought as I was listening: "He understood the music." Perhaps that says best what I am trying to communicate. In addition, pianist and conductor appear to have the same sense of the music and how it should be played, which helps the performance a great deal.

The sound is 1958 mono recorded in Moscow (presumably by Melodiya), so not exactly state of the art, even for that era. But Testament has done a superb job, as usual, of expanding dynamic range and eliminating extraneous noise. The orchestra sounds thin at times (although the Moscow Orchestra was not nearly as good as the Leningrad anyway). But generally the sound is clear, with good balance between piano and orchestra, and between bass and treble. All told, very good sound for a live concert with questionable initial recording technology.

One thing to be aware of: It appears that the entire audience was afflicted with the flu, as coughing is endemic and frequent. If that will bother you, then you don't want this CD. But for me, it doesn't matter at all, so good is the performance, and so enchanting is the palpable excitement of the event. In fact, the coughing actually adds something, as it brings the CD to life in a way a studio rendition never could. It reminds me of the RCA/BMG CD of Toscanini conducting Wagner overtures and preludes in Carnegie Hall - you can actually hear buses going by and the sound of car horns blaring on Sixth Avenue intruding into the concert hall during quiet interludes in the music, just wonderful really. You are there, which is an amazing sensation.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bygone Glory Captured in a Surprisingly Good Bottle 16 Mar 2013
By boldsworthington - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
As a kid of 11 in 1958, I was never crazy about Van Cliburn's studio recording of the Tchaikovsky First, made less than two months after his triumph in Moscow. Somehow, fine as it was, it never seemed to catch fire. It remains a worthy account, but if you have it, you owe it to yourself to spend some serious time with this CD. It will probably make you forget what he did "in studio," because this recording finds Cliburn erupting with white-hot inspiration in his final concert of the First Tchaikovsky Competition. Never before have I heard him play with such sweep and fire and overarching vision. This was an unrepeatable occasion, and in his every note you can feel that *he* feels that truth. Power, poetry, delicacy, fancy, ferocity -- whatever the music yearns to be Cliburn delivers with heart and soul and fingers fully and mutually engaged.

With this CD, you no longer have to wonder what all the shouting was about back in '58. You can hear quite plainly for yourself. There will never be another concert like this -- and can you believe that after Tchaikovsky 1, Cliburn also played the huge Rachmaninoff 3 *and* a rondo created expressly for the contest by Kabalevsky? That's a *lot* of notes for one evening (April 11, 1958)!

Cliburn's emotional generosity is simply overwhelming. His virtuosity will drop your jaw a notch or two -- and remember, he's doing this during the first installment of what set out to be and remains one of the greatest music competitions on the planet. There are times in the big codas of the Tchaikovsky and in the magnificent cadenza of the Rachmaninoff, for instance, when Cliburn attains an almost fearsomely blinding intensity of expression that surely made the Russians feel he was really their own native son. I wonder whether he ever reached this emotional pinnacle again. He was certainly much tamer when I heard him play in Boston in the early '70s.

After hearing these performances, one is almost not surprised by the young Texan's effect on the great Sviatoslav Richter (who sat on the jury with the likes of Gilels, Shostakovich, and Kabalevsky), as related by Bryce Morrison's liner notes (which misgauge VC's competition age as 24 instead of 23): "[W]hen both jury and audience had recovered, their comments came thick and fast [. . .]. Sviatoslav Richter, happily oblivious to competition protocol, gave Cliburn a hundred marks, his competitors zero, remarking, 'he is a pianist, the others are not'." Wow!

Testament deserves highest praise for restoring this previously unavailable full account of one of the great moments in Western musical history. Knowing how awful 1950s Soviet recordings can be, I was astounded by the power, impact, and clarity of this superb 2008 remastering. I've heard bits of the Tchaikovsky over the years, but always in suboptimal sound. Hearing Testament's transfer is a revelation, like seeing Rembrandt's *Night Watch* liberated from centuries of grime.

The intense inspiration of this moment sweeps aside every flaw. No, the Moscow Phil. is not Leningrad, but they play with big hearts, and they give Cliburn their best. Van misses a few notes. It doesn't matter. What he does *not* miss are the grand noble arcs of the big pieces or the lushness of the gardens nestled underneath. People cough here and there. Who cares? I didn't even notice until the third or fourth hearing. *That's* the magic Cliburn sets in motion here. R.I.P., Van. We who were here in '58 will never forget what you did or the grace with which you did it.

This is living musical history I never thought I'd get to hear. Please don't pass up the chance to immerse yourself in a transcendent moment when great music really conquered all. We will not see its like again.
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