Until 2007, this particular coupling of Van Cliburn's epic-making 1960 and 1961 recordings with Fritz Reiner leading the Chicago Symphony Orchestra of Schumann's A minor Concerto and Beethoven's E flat major Concerto had never before existed in RCA's Living Stereo series. Perhaps it was better that way: the fire power of either performance separately was enough to sink a dreadnought; together, they are enough to start a territorial war. Van Cliburn, the Texas-born virtuoso with fingers of steel, launches into Schumann's concerto with unfeigned passion, transforming its soaring lyricism into highest drama, and tears into Beethoven's concerto with undisguised gusto, converting its inherent nobility into deepest expressivity. Reiner, the Hungarian-born maestro with the hair-trigger temper, attacks the CSO with energy and enthusiasm, and out of fear, the players respond with a flawless ensemble sound. Recorded in vivid and immediate stereo sound by producer Richard Mohr and engineer Lewis Layton and remastered in three tracks for this super audio release by Soundmirror, Inc., the sheer force of Cliburn and Reiner's Schumann and Beethoven will make an immediate and lasting impression on any listener -- whether positively or negatively depends on the aesthetic predisposition of the listener.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54|
|Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major ("Emperor"), Op. 73|