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Van Cliburn: A slipshod commemoration

In anticipation of the great pianist’s death, the Audiophile label has reissued the recordings he made in the three years after winning the first Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958. Reissued? They have done nothing but pack three CDs in shabby jewel cases and a cardboard cover, without sleeve-notes or (despite digital remastering) much sound improvement. Wonderful playing, though. My review has just gone up on

van cliburn piano legend


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  1. Steve de Mena says:

    Why does the review mention in a few places this recording is on “RCA” when it seems to be on Audiophile? Is this a licensed release or just pirated copies of recordings over 50 years old?

    Mention should have been made of Sony’s 29CD “Complete Album Collection”, released last month.

  2. Like the non-standard pre-written obituary, I find it rather ghoulish that they had a CD ready for release and you had a review ready to post.

  3. I remember hearing Van Cliburn speak last year; the moderator asked him if he would be ready to part with some of the recordings in the vault he never deemed worthy for release since he was sharing beauty with the world (by auctioning his mother’s piano and several item from his collection). He laughed and said he’ll think about it.

    I wonder if we’ll ever hear them…

  4. Herbert Pauls says:

    This release is entirely redundant anyway. For very little more, get the 29 CD (with the original RCA imprint) that has just been released and can be had for as little as 55 or 60 bucks. It has all the original covers. Now that’s a worthy commemoration, and will undoubtedly be a real trip down memory lane for a great number of Van Cliburn fans.

  5. Roberto Gonzalez says:

    The best way to hear those Van Cliburn recordings is in the Living Stereo SACD reissues, which reproduce the master tapes, sometimes in 3 channels, in beautiful DSD hi-res remasterings.

  6. To me Van’s most extraordinary recorded performance is of Chopin’s Barcarolle — a subtle and difficult piece which every other pianist seems to botch in one way or another — which he did for his marvelous double LP called “Romantic Collection”. When they shortened the double LP to make a single CD, that incredible performance was cut! Frustrating. His artistry and sheer “transmission” (to use a T.S. Eliot-ism) of Chopin in it is simply breathtaking, and Chopin’s Barcarolle is a piece that is, as my musicology professor stated, “musician’s music”.

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