Hahaha, I read an interview in a German magazine with Demidenko today. He had an interezting ztory: He said dat da Tchaik competition in 1978 (Pletnev won, Demidenko wuz 3rd place) wuz all fake; he said dere wuz a decision to let Pletnev win before da comp ztarted.
In 1958 da Tchaik comp jury had enough ballz to let van Clitburn win - how come dey became so corrupt 20 years latah?
From the Cliburn book/biography entitled “VAN CLIBURN” by Howard Reich
page 117, pars. 2-3:
“It was really the Cold War then,” says Sergei Dorensky, today chairman of the piano faculty of the Moscow Conservatory. "So the minister of culture asked Khrushchev what to do-Gilels himself told me this. The minister was very afraid of an American pianist who was so wonderful, the best pianist in the competition, and this was the first Tchaikovsky Competition.
“So the minister went to Khrushchev and said, ‘We don’t know what to do.’ And Khrushchev said, ‘What? What do you mean?’ And the minister of culture said, ‘We now have a Tchaikovsky Competition and an American pianist who plays very well, and we don’t know what to do.’ And Khrushchev asked, ‘What do the professionals say about him? Is he the best?’ And the minister of culture said, ‘Yes he is the best.’ So Khrushchev said, ‘In this case, give him the first prize.’”
fuck. Pletnev’s performance of the thirds etude and Pesther Cranaval was one of the best recordings I’ve ever heard. Besides, Demidenko is just a weak musician. His Bach-Liszt Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen S. 179 was just plain roaring - you couldn’t even hear the melody. I didn’t even stay for the Schubert sonata.
K, but history pretty much proves that Judd should have beaten Pletnev. All of the judd recs from the Tchaik comp are near definitive. His Prok 3 and Tchaik 1 are in my top 3 for those works… his Liszt sonata is in my top 10 and his Barber and Ginastera sonatas are benchmark.
Never mind his La Campanella, which is just way awesome.
(FYI, Judd was the dude that came 2nd, iirc)
And seriously guys, Cliburn deserved to win. He may not have been technically the most gifted player there, but he played with more heart than almost any pianist I’ve heard since.
Man, I have listened to Cliburn favorite Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Debussy, solo albums…etc and I can’t really tell what’s so special about it.
Cliburn is undeniably great at playing piano concertos and I admire him for that, yet when it comes to solo stuff, it’s not like Cliburn himself is playing, sheeyat at times. His both Chopin sonatas, 2 & 3, is just cold and very typical. His Liszt album is indeed a rather waste of money. I’m not saying his playing is bad. Many of his solo recs just aren’t outstanding and I’m disappointed. The way I feel about him is that his playing started to decline shortly after he won the Tchai competition.
There are superior performances out there in the market where you can buy for solo stuff.
I’m not the Cliburn expert here, but yeah, kritt, I agree with your observation about his solo recs. Even some of his concerto recordings later (1970’s) didn’t sound fresh anymore. They sounded like a tired pianist (those live Brahms 2nd and Paganini Rhap in Moscow with Kondrashin or even the the studio Paganini Rhap with Ormandy).
Still, I heard him live several times in the 1970’s (before he retired) and his sound would simply win me over. Such beautiful tones coming from the piano coupled with his grand manner style of playing. Those were memorable concerts indeed. Unfortunately, he never played the Rach3 whenever he came to my native country that time(I’ve adopted another country now), but he would play three concertos on one evening: Beethoven “Emperor”, Grieg, then the Tchaikovsky 1st (whatelse?).
A few years ago, a French channel showed some live concerts of Cliburn from the early 60’s in Moscow playing Brahms 2nd, Grieg, Rach 2, Tchaik, and even playing/conducting the Prok 3rd in New York! These broadcasts were much better than his studio takes on this concertos. He was really well loved in Moscow, probably still is.
About his solo output, I love his “Widmung” a lot. His Chopin 2nd Scherzo, though on the slow side, literally sings. Same with the Fantasia and 3rd Ballade. His recorded Beethoven sonatas are not bad, either (Of course there are better). Somehow, I like his Chopin sonatas. Yeah, his live Mazeppa from the competition sucked.
I am still hoping that a video of him playing the Rach3 during the Tchaik competition would emerge somewhere.
Agreed on all counts. Wonderful concerto player - especially in Live setting - but not so great in solo rep.
His Chopin Sonatas are definitely good, same with the 3rd Ballade. His Barber Sonata is decent and his live Appassionata from the competition was pretty damn good too.
Ariescaces: I have Cliburn’s Rach third and Tchaik 1st from the comp - not video, audio only - if you’d like to hear it. They’re not as good as his commercial recs, but they certainly help prove that he deserved to win.