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September 07, 2013

Some new music releases the Kaboom Kids might be interested in....

I love classical music, and one of my favorite performers of that music is Texan pianist Van Cliburn. His fame has diminished in recent years as he withdrew from public performances, but for a while he was one of the most famous musicians in America. His recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 was the first classical-music album to go platinum (in fact, it eventually went triple platinum). I've been aggravated in recent years because finding some of Cliburn's back catalog on CD has proven difficult as different pieces go in and out of print, and many of the CD reissues suffered from sub-par mastering.

Well, if you love classical piano music and/or are a fan of Van Cliburn, rejoice! RCA has reissued twenty eight of his albums in re-mastered editions on CD. The massive compilation (which includes a booklet and a DVD documentary) weighs in at just over sixty dollars, but that's a fabulous value given the amount of music this set contains.

I haven't listened to the entire set yet (that'll be a project of weeks if not months), but so far I couldn't be happier with the mastering. I recommend it wholeheartedly -- even the packaging is superb.

The second set I want to mention is RCA's re-issue of ten of Julian Bream's albums. Julian Bream is one of the premier classical guitarists of the age, perhaps second only to the master Andres Segovia. Bream was not just a master of the standard classical guitar repertoire, but he also introduced many previously-unknown lute pieces into the standard guitar repertoire. He was instrumental in bringing lutenist John Dowland back to the attention of modern audiences, and actually formed the Julian Bream Consort to play the pieces on period instruments. He also extended the guitar repertoire by commissioning new pieces, most famously the Nocturnal by Benjamin Britten.

The only downside to this set in my opinion is the contribution of tenor Peter Pears. He's never been one of my favorite singers, and I find his vocal work to be fairly stilted and rather odd. Still, it's a small part of the set, and it doesn't really detract from Bream's stellar guitar work.

If you're a fan of classical guitar music, I also recommend this set very highly.

(If you're interested in buying these sets, please hit Ace's sidebar link so he can wet his beak a little.)

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posted by Monty at 01:55 PM

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