piano, piano blog, piano blogging, piano competition, Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn’s Tchaikovsky No. 1 concerto revisited

Cliburn Moscow

Van Cliburn’s named popped up on one of the piano forums. Would he have made the same formidable impression in today’s Moscow Competition as he did in 1958?

The answer is simply YES, and resurrecting a flashback of his winning performance sheds light on how and why his Tchaikovsky 1, at least for me, stands out as uniquely memorable. (I might add that I heard Van play the towering signature concerto at Lewisohn Stadium in the Bronx under the baton of Kiril Kondrashin upon the pianist’s US return)

It was evident that Van allowed the concerto to play itself with its unswerving, embedded lyricism. He didn’t toy with phrases, fight the bravura octaves, or apply extreme rubato to distort musical lines. His gorgeous singing tone was unabated through the most challenging cascades of notes and his thread of MELODY permeated the most dizzying passagework. Yet Van made his virtuoso journey look effortless with big, relaxed gestures of his arms that funneled energy down through his wrists into fluid finger approaches into the keys.

There was no battlefield landscape, as perhaps the 1812 Overture might have evoked. Van knew better than to leave listeners with a one dimensional warhorse impression. He respected the immense color palette of the composer’s creation and its underlying singing dimension.

In the concluding Presto movement, Van imbued more contrasts through rhythmically animated chords. He refused to carbon copy measures of the same. His playing had dynamic variation and riveting emotional engagement without a forced pushing, pulling, poking or prodding of phrases.

Finally, Cliburn was at all times a soloist and collaborator, embedded in expressive counterpoint/dialog with the orchestra in an interactively pulsating exchange.

On so many levels, Cliburn was a winner back in 1958, and I surmise, in today’s Moscow Competition 2015, he would be my undeniable favorite.

***
The XV International Tchaikovsky Competition resumes today, June 30, in a Medici TV beamed LIVESTREAM.

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/live/piano

LINKS

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/rekindling-memories-of-van-cliburn-the-cold-war-kirill-kondrashin-etc/

http://www.cliburn.org

George Li, Moscow, pianist, piano, piano blog, piano competition, Tchaikovsky Piano Competition

A Triumph for pianist, George Li!

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Among many opening piano recitals beamed around the world by Medici in the first round of the Tchaikovsky Competition, George Li’s display of virtuosity was the most riveting for me. A synthesis of intellect, emotion, sensitivity and spontaneity hallmarked Li’s interpretation of Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Liszt masterworks. A replay of the opener offers its own best testimony to extraordinary artistry by a pianist seasoned well beyond his tender years. (He’s just 19).

By all accounts George is a musical messiah in the way I remember Murray Perahia way back in the 1960s. So it’s my hope that he’ll add another major triumph to his roster, wooing audiences to new heights joy and gratitude far and wide.

Go George, All the way to the Gold in Moscow!

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REPLAY, George Li’s Recital, Round One:

http://tch15.medici.tv/en/performance/round-round-1-piano-2015-06-19-1300000300-great-ha

Flashback to my interview with George Li in 2012:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/my-interview-with-george-li-a-seasoned-pianist-at-16/

LINKS:
http://www.georgelipianist.com

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/medici-tv-presents-free-live-stream-of-the-xv-international-tchaikovsky-competition-from-moscow/