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Van Cliburn: My Favorite Liszt ()

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Sometimes one dusts off an old LP and is surprised to find an excellent performance of a work that one previously thought merely competent or slightly above average. In the age of the CD, where remastering processes can enhance recordings that were encumbered by bad surfaces or a constricted dynamic range, the same effect can occur. Whether this reviewer's tepid reaction to Van Cliburn's performance of the Liszt B minor sonata in the mid-1970s was partly due to RCA's processing or to my own misjudgment, he cannot say. The only thing that can be said is that this performance is one of the most compelling on record. The recent Pollini reissue on Philips' Great Pianists Series clocks in with an almost identical timing (29 minutes plus), but is a far less effective rendering in its straightforward predictability.Cliburn's approach here is passionate and big, favoring clarity of line at all times. Whenever any important motif appears, he points it up almost pedantically. Yet he does so with imagination and... Hide synopsis

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