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Reviews: Tchaikovsky & Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos - Van Cliburn

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Reviews: 5

Review by sgb October 9, 2004 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This has always been one of my two or three favorite performances of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto. I have owned a copy of the original Shaded Dog vinyl pressing for more than 25 years, but never felt motivated to buy any of the CD reissues. Van Cliburn does such a great job as featured soloist that I would find it difficult to recommend something else. The Rachmaninov isn't quite so stellar, but quite good nevertheless.

The sound of the original vinyl record never received many accolades from audiophiles who loved the sound of the old Shaded Dogs, but it is certainly acceptable by 1958 standards. The sound on the SACD is merely average. Of the four Living Stereo SACDs I purchased initially, I found it to be better than the Saint-Saëns, but not as good as the Ravel.

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Review by stvnharr October 20, 2004 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Great historical performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. Does anyone remember that Van Cliburn had a ticker tape parade in NYC after winning the Tchaikovsky Competition, back when classical music "mattered" more than it does now.
The sound of this disc however is rather ordinary, even in this SACD. What a pity too, given the fine sound of some of the other Living Stereo releases.

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Review by djcowboy February 21, 2006 (3 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I find all the other reviews accurate. I remember these performances from my childhood and find them refreshing in a nostalgic kind of way. If only I could play one instrument this well............................................Oh the review...

As mentioned earlier the performance is incredible the sonics are just average. A real shame they could not find a way to improve the quality. I guess even with SACD you can't more information than you put in. But it's still money well spent and highly recommended listening. I think we sometimes forget it's the performance/music first and everything else follows. This is truly a historic performance.

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Review by sacdman December 5, 2006 (14 of 14 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
What a stunner of a disc! My favorite SACD, out of the several hundred I now own.

The performances are simply to die for. I have scores of alternative versions (Argerich, Ashkenzy,
Horowitz, ..., Volodos), and no one holds a candle to Cliburn in the Tchaikovsky.

Yet, the real surprise is the Rach. 2. Here, Reiner's synergy with Cliburn raises the performance
up several notches, resulting in an absolutely thrilling performance.

Even the normally sedate Penguin Guide refered to the Rach. 2 recording as if it was "recorded yesterday",
and I have to agree.

Forget the wimpy Telarcs or the bright Membranes or the acerbic Naxos SACDs. What you have here
is a 50 year old pair of recordings that sound like they were recorded yesterday, with performances
that will be just as timeless a 100 years from now.

Five stars in sonics as well as performance. If the recordings sound bad, something's wrong with your
system! Played through a full dCS stack with BAT VK 51Se and a Krell 600c and Harbeth Monitor 40s,
this SACD sounds stunning, with amazing dynamics and spectacular piano sound.

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Review by JW March 30, 2007 (12 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
WOW ! That's all I can say. That, and the fact that this is a masterful performance. The sound is big, expansive and free flowing. No constricted dynamics. A Steinway that sounds like a Steinway played in a big hall. There is a little metallic-ness on the overtones of the high notes, but there are people who maintain that that is exactly what it sounds like when played live. This is indeed one of the best Living Stereo discs I have (17). The recording was done in May 1958. LOL. Lately I am on a bit of a quest to explore recorded piano and these audiophile travels are frought with ups and downs. This is a difficult instrument to capture and many a recording engineer stumbles hard when confronted with a piano (that's being kind - falls off a cliff is more like it at times ;-). Not these - John Crawford and Lewis Layton. I doff my hat to you, good sirs!

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