ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Van Cliburn Competition
WORKS: 1993 medal-winners: works by Haydn, Wagner-Liszt, Bach-Busoni, Bach, Scriabin,
PERFORMER: Simone Pedroni, Valery Kuleshov, Christopher Taylor (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: VAIA 1177
The Van Cliburn Competition was launched in Texas in 1962, and I reviewed the first six volumes of this series in January. The technical prowess of the contestants is questionable. Anyone entering such a prestigious competition is in the international class, and the pianists represented here are the eventual medallists.
Schub’s Chopin is crystal clear, with limpid tone and perfect control, his Liszt robust, and he makes the Mendelssohn Fantasia in F sharp minor (an interesting choice) sound easy. Rodriguez is marvelously atmospheric in Debussy’s Feux d’artifice, while his Chopin B flat minor Sonata – rather freely interpreted – encompasses a ‘Marche funèbre’ whose central section drips with emotion. Lyras, who shared a silver medal with Rodriguez, offers a charming view of a Medtner Fairy Tale and works wonders with Scriabin’s elusive Fifth Sonata.
Pedroni’s Haydn is neat, if a little indulgent, and he plays Liszt’s transcription of the ‘Liebestod’ from Tristan with assurance. Kuleshov includes his own revision of Horowitz’s Variations on a Theme from Carmen (has he really put in even more notes? It sounds like a duet played by two virtuosi), while Taylor, surprisingly choosing harpsichord music (the second half of Bach’s Goldberg Variations), delivers it in a rather Romanticised way.