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Customer Reviews for: Van Cliburn - The Complete Album Collection

10 Reviews in Total
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4 Star: 1 Review
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 Van Cliburn collection January 7, 2014
By Anthony F. (Jensen Beach, FL) -- See All My Reviews
Worth EVERY penny . His playing is so special and his selections are all first class pieces. Report Abuse

 A fitting tribute to America's pianist May 5, 2013
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) -- See All My Reviews
This Complete Album Collection contains the complete recordings than Van Cliburn made as pianist for RCA, plus a documentary on DVD. It does not include his sole recording made as a conductor (issued in 1965 on a limited edition LP), nor recordings that have turned up on other labels. By the time I became aware of Van Cliburn he had already retired, and my co-workers at the Classical record store where I was employed dismissed him as a "burn out". It wasn't until some of his recordings were issued on SACD hybrid discs that I began to listen to his recordings. Despite Cliburn's All-American, apple pie loving boy from Texas image, his musical training was solidly in the Russian School. It's not for nothing that his teacher was Rosina Lhévinne, doyenne of Russian piano teachers. Listening anew to these recordings, it's also easy to see why he won the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958. Cliburn had technique to burn, but never felt the need to get into a speed race - even when he played such warhorses as Rachmaninoff's Third Concerto. Yet it's Cliburn's recording of that concerto which brings a lump to my throat at the final statement of the third movement's "big tune." Cliburn was among the most sincere of interpreters. He didn't feel the need to drown his performances in eccentricity, yet one can instantly tell it's Cliburn performing. His temperament ran warm, but not hot like Rubinstein's and certainly not molten like Horowitz's. In many ways, Cliburn resembled Benno Moiseiwitsch, the master of relaxed virtuosity. Also, Cliburn's ringing sonority reminded many of Rosina Lhévinne's husband, Josef. (Vladimir Horowitz once remarked that he and Arthur Rubinstein together couldn't match Cliburn's tone.) Let's get one thing out of the way, Cliburn was a good musician - not a one hit wonder. There is a misconception, mostly centered in the Germanic circles, that one has to be a great Mozart and Beethoven interpreter to be a great musician. Nothing could be further from the truth. Much of this stems from Artur Schnabel's statement that he limited his repertoire to music that was "better than it could be played." There are plenty of Romantic works that are "better than they can be played". Fact is, there have been plenty of pianists who turn in fine performances of various Beethoven and Mozart works - including Cliburn for the most part. (There are also plenty of pianists who have been lauded for their Beethoven, Mozart, and Schubert interpretations for no good reason.) There are not many pianists who can hold together the Liszt Sonata, or make as strong a case as Cliburn does for the original 1913 version of Rachmaninoff's Second Sonata. As with any recorded legacy, there are high, middle, and low points. The Rachmaninoff Third Concerto, a warm, lyrical performance that proves the piece is more than a pianistic warhorse, belongs in every record collection - despite a rather lackluster accompaniment from the Symphony of the Air. Cliburn makes the best case I've heard for the heavier, chordal cadenza. The Prokofieff Sixth Sonata and Barber Sonata rank with the best - and the Brahms Handel Variations is one of my favorite versions. Many of the other recordings, including works by Chopin, Liszt, and the impressionists, rank as solid but seldom first choices - of course, the same thing could be said about the bulk of Vladimir Ashkenazy's copious output. The low point for me was the opening movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, played rather loudly and lacking in atmosphere. Cliburn was wise enough to know his limitations and be selective in the music he chose to present to the public. Chronologically and stylistically, the repertoire here starts with Mozart and ends with Barber's Piano Sonata. Cliburn didn't embrace serialism or twelve-tone because music without a "line" didn't speak to him. Nor did he play much chamber music. Instead, he concentrated on the core Romantic solo and concerto repertoire - and he played it very well. While many know-it-alls crowed over Cliburn's retirement, at least he knew when enough was enough. That can't be said for many of the intellectual crowd's pantheon of musical heroes - including Claudio Arrau and Rudolf Serkin, great artists who should have left the stage years before they did. Then there are those who shouldn't have begun in the first place. As with many of their recent reissues, Sony has organized this set to match the original LPs - which means short playing times - and included the original cover art. A perceptive essay by Jed Distler is also included. The recordings do not sound newly remastered, but Cliburn got better sound at RCA than many of his contemporaries at that label did - everything is acceptable sonically. Report Abuse

 Van Cliburn Collection April 13, 2013
By D. Hogue (La Grange, IL) -- See All My Reviews
I have been a Van Cliburn fan for many years especially his sensitivity and technical prowess performing Chopin. Risking jingoism, I have the same feelings about Murray Perahia. The RCA collection is everything I expected and included several albums I already have in my collection, but many more I did not. Each disk resembles the iconic RCA Red label 33 rpm of years past including faux needle grooves on the title side. As expected quality varied with vintage, venue, technology but all great listening. I have a 6-disk CD player driving a Bose system and when I load the cartridge I can listen so marvelous piano music uninterupted for hours and hours. Great buy, considering the Perahia collection as well. dh Report Abuse

 Van Cliburn April 12, 2013
By John M. (Seattle, WA) -- See All My Reviews
It is a real treat to have all of Van Cliburn's recordings in one place and at a reasonable price. I had forgotten how spectacularly he plays. Had some of those "LPs" but never bought CDs. Great fun! Report Abuse

 A fantastic set at an amazing price April 6, 2013
By Joshua Smith (Leesburg, VA) -- See All My Reviews
First of all, consider that you are getting 28 albums by buying this box set. This means that each disc is actually less than $3 per disc, which is good no matter how you look at it. Next, what are you getting for your money? You get amazing interpretations of the Romantic composers, including the very famous recording of Tchaikovsky's piano concerto No. 1. A few of the recordings in this box set cover more modern compositions, but the only recording I dislike was disc 17 (Prokofieff and Barber sonatas), which felt stale, for lack of a better term. To be fair, Van Cliburn really specialized in Russian Romantics, and I certainly don't mind writing off one of the discs out of the collection if it means I can still have the other 27. Regardless, this box set contains several essential recordings, and it is certainly worth every penny. Report Abuse

 Exceptional collection March 29, 2013
By J. McDuffie Jr (Duncanville, TX) -- See All My Reviews
Quintessential Van Cliburn! No serious collector should be without this compendium of work. Report Abuse

 Van Cliburn is fantastic March 15, 2013
By Janice D. (Rosemead, CA) -- See All My Reviews
I saw Van Cliburn at the Hollywood Bowl the last time he came there and he was such an outstanding man and pianist and already having one CD by him I wanted to get the rest of his performances on CD. The Complete Album Collection is terrific. The sound is great and the quality of the collection is fantastic. Thank You for allowing me to get this Collection. Report Abuse

 The Legacy of an Icon March 15, 2013
By mike axelrod (Mill Valley, CA) -- See All My Reviews
The 1958 Tchaikovsky competition, won by Van Cliburn in the middle of the cold war, was more than a diplomatic coup. It was a transformative event in American classical music. It was the catalyst for the ascendancy of the U.S. into a genre dominated by European artists. The release of his Red Seal LP was the first time a classical music album sold more than one million copies Though the event was the catalyst, the engine that drove it subsequently was Cliburn’s decision to dedicate the rest of his life to assuring America’s place in the classical music world. His concert schedule was daunting as he performed all over the world. He was greeted as the first classical music “rock star”, a role that his six-foot four frame fit well. He established the Van Cliburn International Piano competition which, to this day, is one of the most prestigious piano competitions originating in the US. This 29 disc set is the complete assemblage of his RCA Red Seal albums. The set includes an excellent overview of his career and the surprise , which makes this set a must , a DVD documentary of his life. Because he was so visible, the news footage and films of his performances, gives one the understanding of why this icon’s legacy will endure. Listening to these original albums was a Proustian experience. I imagined myself in my college dorm playing the albums on my “Hi-Fi”, amazed by the sound pouring out of my record player. Vladimir Horowitz said that, “Van Cliburn’s sound is double that of everyone else”. The release of this set is quite timely, given the recent passing of this legendary, charismatic performer. For what you get, the price of $69.99 is a steal Report Abuse

 nice idea, generally good sound March 13, 2013
By S. Gooderman (San Francisco, CA) -- See All My Reviews
Having the RCA Van Cliburn recordings all together is a nice idea. Each recording has the original jacket artwork and label, and the sound, especially the older recordings is fantastic. My only gripe is that, being originally Lp in length, some of these discs are notoriously short: we're talking 35 minutes in length. I think combining a few of them onto one CD, and putting the disc into a double jacket would have made more sense and made the case more compact. Report Abuse

 Timing is everything March 13, 2013
By W. McCoy (Sunland, CA) -- See All My Reviews
Van Cliburn was a unique individual. I made the decision to order this Complete Collection of his performances because I personally knew Van Cliburn, and therefore, this music has a special significance in my memory. I was a member of the Broadway Baptist Church and its Chancel Choir in Fort Worth, Texas, where Van occasionally attended services, and particularly anything musical. The funeral of his mother, Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn, was conducted in our church, and of course, the choir sang for it. The massive pipe organ at Broadway (built and installed while I lived there) is named in her honor. Though I no longer live in Fort Worth, the memories of Van's music and his persona are indelibly etched in my experience. Little did I know that I had ordered this collection mere weeks before he was to pass away; I received the collection just over a week before his death. As yet, I haven't had time to listen to all the recordings, but those I have are superb. The renowned singing quality of his playing is evident to even a casual listener. Kudos for making this collection available; it's a must have for anyone who appreciates great piano virtuosity. Report Abuse

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