A pianist of legendary fame and stature, VLADIMIR HOROWITZ’s standard-setting virtuosity and boundless imagination resonate throughout this remarkable collection of his performances, gathered together for the first time on six DVDs.
VLADIMIR HOROWITZ – THE VIDEO COLLECTION includes the first London and Vienna recitals Horowitz gave in decades, along with his celebrated historic return to Moscow in 1986 after a more than sixty year absence. The Last Romantic features Horowitz in his New York home playing and speaking about Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff – all composers with whom he had a lifelong affinity. Horowitz Plays Mozart, a behind-the-scenes documentary of Horowitz’s only Mozart concerto recording,Read more conveys the veteran pianist’s palpable joy and freshness of approach in redis- covering this composer late in life. Vladimir Horowitz – A Reminiscence interweaves rare footage from concerts, interviews and private archives into a loving, insightful portrait narrated on screen by the pianist’s widow, Wanda Toscanini Horowitz. The set also includes Horowitz in London.
With over 8 hours of music and interviews, VLADIMIR HOROWITZ – THE VIDEO COLLECTION is a must-have for any Horowitz fan.
Ballade for Piano no 1 in G minor, B 66/Op. 23by Frédéric Chopin Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1831-1835 Date of Recording: 05/1982 Venue: Live Royal Festival Hall, London Length: 9 Minutes 27 Secs.
Kinderszenen, Op. 15by Robert Schumann Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1838; Germany Date of Recording: 05/1982 Venue: Live Royal Festival Hall, London Length: 17 Minutes 40 Secs.
God save the King/Queenby Anonymous Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: Baroque Written: by 1744; England Date of Recording: 05/1982 Venue: Live Royal Festival Hall, London Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs.
Concerto for Piano no 23 in A major, K 488by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Carlo Maria Giulini
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra
Period: Classical Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 03/1987 Venue: Abanella Studio, Milan, Italy Length: 23 Minutes 47 Secs.
Poor quality production betrays Horowitz's memoryMarch 9, 2012By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"This six DVD set gathers most, but not all, of Vladimir Horowitz's filmed and videotaped performances. The timeline for these performances is brief: 1982-1987 - along with a few snippets of Horowitz playing in 1974 for an abandoned documentary. So, we only see Horowitz in the late stages of his career. Paradoxically, the earliest of these is the weakest. Horowitz's May 22, 1982 recital from London's Royal Festival Hall (billed as A Royal Concert), is little short of a regal disaster. Horowitz had recently begun taking the anti-depressants that would suspend his career in 1983, and it shows. The Scarlatti Sonatas are lacking the grace he usually brought to these gems. Both Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie and G minor Ballade are fragmented, incoherent, and technically sub-par - the Ballade's coda is just plain banged. There's little sense of childhood - even a memory of childhood - in the Kinderszenen, with fussed phrasing and drawn out ritardandos that border on the bizarre. Only in the Rachmaninoff Sonata does the playing improve - although it's nowhere near the level of his 1968 and 1980 recordings. To make matters worse, Horowitz looks as bad as he sounds: slack jawed facial expression, overweight to the extent his coat looks about to pop open, his lower teeth discolored to the point of blackness. Even the interview (shown at Intermission but taped weeks earlier at the pianist's New York townhouse) shows a nearly incoherent pianist rambling along with stories of his childhood and early success. By the way, this DVD includes all three of Horowitz's encores from that day - the last had been deleted from all previous VHS and LaserDisc issues. Given Horowitz's condition in 1982 and '83, it's all the more remarkable that he returned to playing in 1985. The Last Romantic documentary, filmed by the Maysles brothers, was conceived as a way for the pianist to ease himself into performing without the stress of a big return concert. Horowitz looks remarkably well here: relatively trim and vigorous (and free of that ridiculous comb-over he'd worn since the 1970s). His playing is on a higher level than in London, although there are moments of caution in Chopin's B minor Scherzo and A-flat Polonaise. The hand held camera work is often too close and shaky (ala Blair Witch Project) and becomes a distraction at times. Incidentally, the 15 minutes of outtakes that was released in 2003 is not included here. Horowitz's 1986 return concert in Moscow was undoubtedly the high point in his career - at least in terms of publicity. The pianist was performing in his native land for the first time since 1925, and thanks to technology, in front of an international audience of millions. If there was any nervousness on Horowitz's part, it's not evident on this DVD. Who can fail to be moved when Horowitz (unseen by the audience, but visible on television) gently pats his piano as if it were a beloved companion? The audience's reaction to Horowitz's performance, some seen openly weeping, belies the contention that he was an emotionally uncommunicative performer. The concert is shot-through with nostalgia, a commingling of joy and melancholy - all punctuated with virtuoso thrills remarkable for a pianist of any age, let alone an octogenarian. This version includes all three of Horowitz encores, which was not always the case. Horowitz plays Mozart is another Maysles brothers documentary - this time of a recording session for the K. 488 Concerto with Carlo Maria Giulini and the La Scala Theater Orchestra. In the course of the session, the concerto is covered in toto, and part of the finale is redone. The behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes into making a classical recording, from tuning the piano, ironing out disagreements between soloist and conductor, and working the press, is enlightening. In between takes, the pianist spends time mugging for the camera, flirting with his (male) page turner, and arguing with Wanda - some of which is embarrassing to watch. Some moments are out of context: Just before the session, Horowitz removes his jacket and hands it to his manager, commenting "All my money is in here." Without reading Harold Schonberg's biography of Horowitz, none would know that the pianist's hotel room was robbed during the sessions, causing him to feel justifiably paranoid. Horowitz's May 1987 recital in Vienna's famed Musikverein was the second-to-last of his career - and the last visual document of his playing (he continued to record until 1989). The sense of repose that marked his later playing is most in evidence here - particularly in the Andante of Mozart's K. 333 Sonata, and Schubert's G-flat Impromptu - a remarkable demonstration of Horowitz's ability to sustain a melodic line even at a slow tempo. Schumann's Kinderszenen is remarkably simpler than the 1982 London performance, and more poetic by far. Horowitz brings a sensual flirtatiousness to the middle section of Chopin's B minor Mazurka, while the octaves of the A-flat Polonaise are as bouncy as ever - if a bit slower. Incidentally, there is no extra-musical program here: Horowitz simply walks on stage, performs his program, and leaves - to tumultuous applause, of course. 1993's A Reminiscence will rekindle memories of all the familiar moments - the collaborations with Toscanini, the 1965 return to Carnegie Hall, the 1986 Moscow concert - but offers little that is new. Aside from some grainy home movies and excerpts from an abandoned 1974 documentary, the footage of Horowitz duplicates the other DVDs in this set. There are no interviews with other musicians, collaborators, or members of the Horowitz inner circle. The only figure shown, aside from Horowitz himself, is the pianist's widow, Wanda Toscanini Horowitz. She recites the usual anecdotes, prompted by an off camera Peter Gelb - Horowitz's manager during the 1980s. Hence, this doc is the ultimate inside job. Wanda, who arguably knew Horowitz better than anybody, avoids delving into certain aspects of his non-musical life - she is even sketchy as to whether the pianist's 1953 crisis, which brought on a 12-year retirement from public performance, was a nervous breakdown, or colitis, or both. Other aspects of Horowitz's life, ranging from his homosexuality to the tragic fate of his Russian family (aside from his sister, no one in Horowitz's immediate family survived Stalin's reign), to his disastrous 1983 concerts are not mentioned at all. There are a few moments of insight here, but one cannot escape the impression that this material was thrown together by Sony Classical for one purpose, to sell records. Only the inclusion of a stunning performance of Scriabin's Vers la Flamme raises this doc above typical PBS fundraising fodder. Another disappointment: the performance of Chopin's Introduction and Rondo that was included as a bonus on the VHS and LD issues in the 1990s is not included here. Now to the question on the minds of many Horowitz collectors: Does the picture quality of this set improve upon previous issues? On balance, I have to say NO - and in some cases, it looks worse. The Pioneer DVD issues of The Last Romantic and Moscow concert were head and shoulders above this issue. The Last Romantic and Mozart Concerto documentaries (which were shot on film) look very grainy and washed out - it's obvious the producers did not go back to the original film elements but used an existing tape copy. The Mocsow looks identical to the Sony DVD issue (not to be confused with the superior, Pioneer issue - which was unfortunately missing the final encore) which looks like it came from a 2nd generation videotape. The Vienna concert is curious: The picture alternates between the high quality seen on the DG DVD, and a fuzzy version seen whenever Horowitz begins a piece. I suspect this is the result of an effort to delete the blue title cards seen on the DG issue (although a German title card can be seen for Mozart's Rondo in D major). There is a continual problem with "interline twitter" which is most evident during close-ups of VH's hands. The only exception to the above is the London concert (which has been previously issued on VHS and LD, but never DVD). The picture is noticeably improved here - much better contrast and sharpness. Even the sound has been made more palatable than the clattery original. Another small nit: Whatever language I pick for the main menu, the disc defaults to German subtitles - easily correctable with a few flicks of the remote. So, on balance, this is the typical half-hearted (but full priced) job we've come to expect from Sony. The packaging, with excellent liner notes by Jed Distler, is certainly nice. But with the poor picture quality, it amounts to lipstick on a pig. I would not recommend this for those who already have these in other formats. For a newcomer to Horowitz, perhaps this should be considered if the price drops."Report Abuse
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