Cast Program notes Appears in More info
BBC Television Studios, 1959-1960
Cliburn in Chopin and Arrau in Beethoven: illuminating contrasts in both creator and re-creator, in composer and performer.
Cliburn was recorded by the BBC one year after his tumultuous triumph in the 1958 inaugural Tchaikovsky Competition, where his playing captivated a jury that included such luminaries as Shostakovich, Kabalevsky, Richter and Gilels. For Richter, Cliburn was the genuine article ("he is a pianist, the others are not"), and oblivious to competition etiquette, he awarded Cliburn one hundred marks, the others zero. The Tchaikovsky Competition had been created as a showcase for Russian talent and so Cliburn's hold on both his jury and audience came as a shock. Here, after all, was an American pianist who made his admirers forget the current cold was and who defied cynical expectations of a crew-cut school of playing expressed in un-lyrical, cut-glass sound. Later in London, Cliburn would attract a capacity audience (including several Hollywood stars) to the Royal Festival Hall and launched an international career that quickly took its toll.