Even in his late years, Horowitz evokes a Schumann wholly possessed in Kreisleriana, and his Scriabin shows how he could still kindle glowing embers into scorching flame.
For Horowitz's DG debut on record, taken from the soundtrack of the film "The Last Romantic", microphones and cameras went to his New York home (419 045-1GH; CD 419 045-2GH, 5/86). But this second recital is a studio recording, his first for over 12 years, for which his own piano travelled with him after a precarious descent from a second-floor window. Let me say at once that the sound quality could scarcely be bettered.
The date was September 1985, when he was already within sight of his 81st birthday. It would be idle toRead more pretend that the years have taken no toll. One or two stormier climaxes in Kreisleriana, like a few passing details in the concluding March, no longer emerge completely effortless. As an interpreter, too, his desire to shed new light sounds just that bit more forced. But that's by the way. It still remains a graphic reminder of the last great believer in the divine right of keyboard kings.
First unforgettably recorded by him way back in 1969 (RCA—nla), Schumann's Kreisleriana shows him still more responsive to the "positively wild love in some of the movements" (the composer's words), still more aware of the music's startling strangeness, still more attentive to under parts and other hidden voices (not least in No. 1), still more anxious to enrich and intensify melody. There are passing roughnesses, exaggerations, and vagaries of tempo (the beautiful Eusebian No. 4 most notably lacks calm). Yet from first note to last he evokes a Schumann wholly possessed. Scriabin's D sharp minor Etude also shows how he can still kindle glowing embers into scorching flame. Both Scarlatti sonatas are done with exquisite delicacy, even if the B minor pathos of Kk87 finds an outlet in a Chopinesque soundworld. The two Liszt pieces (of which the Impromptu is a new addition to his record repertory) confirm that his finger dexterity and ear for sonority are legendary still. I was less convinced by his somewhat capriciously mercurial approach to the theme and variations of Schubert's B flat Impromptu. Even the Schubert/Tausig Marche militaire (for which Horowitz has provided a still more brilliant ending) has its moments of rhythmic archness. But what a comeback! I can't wait for the concerto album, the collection of Schumann, Chopin and Liszt fantasias, and most of all a recording of his own improvisations already taking shape in his mind.
The True Sound of HorowitzDecember 23, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"As someone who heard Horowitz in recital (Boston, October 19, 1986, a day I will never forget) I can report that this CD comes closer than anything else I have heard to the real thing. It helps that, for once, the microphones are not placed too close to Horowitz's piano. This is a demonstration quality disc for piano fans. Schumann's Kreisleriana was a Horowitz specialty. The interpretation here is freer, looser structurally than his 1969 recording. For me, the earlier version is still unmatched in its concentration and the laying bare of Schumann's duality - in my opinion it remains Horowitz's finest solo recording. But this 1985 version also has a lot going for it - the tempos are so flexible, without losing the basic meter; and the phrasing is just so "right." Thus is it with the rest of the recording. This is some of Horowitz's most romantic Scarlatti playing, almost as if Scarlatti were a baroque Chopin - not as outlandish as it seems, as Chopin adored Scarlatti's music. The Liszt Valse Oubliee was another Horowitz specialty, he recorded it at least three times officially, this one is my favorite. Horowitz captures Liszt's mystical eroticism in a way few others have matched. The Impromptu from 1872 is rarely played, and hearing it one understands the comment that Horowitz can get forty colors from a piano by striking two keys. Horowitz plays the famous Scriabin Etude differently here than in earlier recordings, beginning quietly and building to a stunning climax. The Schubert Impromptu is played with more flexibility than we would here from such modern imterpreters as Brendel. But past Schubert specialists like Schnabel didn't feel the need to be human metronomes to reveal the structure of the piece. Horowitz imbues the piece with that long lost quality known as charm, and the running scale passages in the final variations are as well balanced as a string of pearls. The Military March is rather like Horowitz's arrangement of Stars and Stripes, but at somewhat lower voltage. Still, it is a dazzling delight, and a rousing conclusion to a marvelous recording."Report Abuse