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     Harvey Lavan Cliburn was born on July 12, 1934 in Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.
     Van Cliburn's career bounced many times between USA and Russia and his artistic growth was inspired by these two very different cultural traditions.  Van Cliburn inherited homosexuality from America and piano skills, international acclaim from Russia.  After studies at the Julliard School under a graduate from the Moscow conservatory - Rosina Lhevinne, in 1958 he took part in The First Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow and was awarded the first prize.  The victory at this prestigious international competition became a pivotal moment in Van Cliburn's career.  Upon his return he was given a ticker-tape parade in New York.
     Today we have the Van Cliburn Foundation and the Van Cliburn International Piano
Competition in Fort Worth, Texas.  Music life in Fort Worth makes Mr. Cliburn travel a lot; and millions of fans enjoy his performances around the world.
     Van Cliburn's piano displays a variety of timbres and sounds as rich as an orchestra.
Technical perfection and sensuality are an integral part of his interpretations.
    Three very different compositions make up the programme of this album.  They are
written in different genres by different composers.  This variety exposes the magnitude
of Van Cliburn's talent in full.  All three pieces were recorded live during the most
memorable days of the pianist's career - his victory at the Tchaikovsky Competition.
     Beethoven's Appassionata impresses by a huge range of dynamic shades and
timbres, which Van Cliburn applies appropriately and individually to various elements
of the piano texture.  Counterpoint lines are interpreted so differently, that sometimes
it seems, that two or three pianists play simultaneously.  The performance is very emotional and delicate at the same time.  A listener can experience how consistently and sensibly Van Cliburn builds the architecture of the large-size form.  A "leitmotif" of "will" threads through the entire work generating a powerful impulse to win.  "Appassionata" is a very smart choice for any competition.
     Liszt was a composer who focused on romantic themes.  The night serenade - Nocturne No.3 "Liebestraum" is one of his masterpieces.  The piece lacks any pompous passages and makes a sincere beautiful melody the only focus of the pianist.  "The song of love" unfolds very naturally and unpredictably.
     Nikolai Rubinstein was Tchaikovsky's roommate for a while and it was Rubinstein,
who invited the 25-year-old clerk from the Ministry of Justice to teach harmony at the
Moscow Conservatory.  Rubinstein was director of the school, which now bears the name
of Pyotr Tchaikovsky.  He was an authoritative man, who often gave Tchaikovsky advice
how to write music and premiered many of his compositions.
    However their relationship was not easy.  There is a remarkable story about the creation
of the First Piano Concerto:  Being constantly embarrassed by Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky
decided to compose a very complex work for piano and orchestra and dedicate it to his
patron.  Practicing this complex composition should accordingly embarrass Rubinstein
and reveal his limited piano skills.  The plan worked.  Rubinstein railed against the music
exclaiming: "worthless, impossible to play, the themes have been used before... there are only two or three pages that can be salvaged and the rest must be thrown away!"
    He refused to play the concerto...After listening to these long tirades Tchaikovsky
changed his dedication for Hans von Bulov, who successfully premiered the concerto
in Boston, in 1875.  It is fair to tell, that Rubinstein learned the lesson and Tchaikovsky's
concerto as well.  He became one of the most outstanding interpreters of this work.
    Van Cliburns' performance of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto recorded in America
after his victory in Moscow has sold over one million copies.  Another recording by him
of the same work is represented here.  It was made live at the First Tchaikovsky  International Competition in Moscow, in 1958.  The Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory where the Tchaikovsky Competition took place was packed.  It is amazing
that the quality of the recording is comparable with studios - the Russian audience does not clap during pauses and it does not chew popcorn!  Kirill Kondrashin conducted the orchestra for both recordings.

©2003 Evgeni Kostitsyn

Van Cliburn, piano

Ludwig Van Beethoven
Sonata No. 23 in F minor "Appassionata"
1. Allegro Assai                  9:08
2. Andante Con Moto        6:41
3. Allegro ma non Troppo  5:18

Franz Liszt
4. "Liebestraum," Nocturne No. 3   4:00

Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Piano Concerto No. 1 in B flat minor
5. Allegro non Troppo e Molto Maestoso 20:51
6. Andantino Semplice                              6:52
7. Allegro con Fuoce                                6:35

Total Duration - 59:55

cover painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Anonymous

Recorded live at the Grand Hall of the Moscow Conservatory on April 18, 1958.
Recording engineer - Dudkevich.

Design by Evgeni Kostitsyn