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Horowitz in Moscow
November 25, 2011 5:14 PM   Subscribe

In 1986,[Vladimir] Horowitz announced that he would return to the Soviet Union for the first time since 1925 to give recitals in Moscow and Leningrad. In the new atmosphere of communication and understanding between the USSR and the USA, these concerts were seen as events of political, as well as musical, significance. posted by Trurl (13 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Horowitz's performing style frequently involved vast dynamic contrasts, with overwhelming double-fortissimos followed by sudden delicate pianissimos. He was able to produce an extraordinary volume of sound from the piano, without producing a harsh tone. Horowitz could elicit an exceptionally wide range of tonal color from the piano, and his taut, precise attack was noticeable even in his renditions of technically undemanding pieces such as the Chopin Mazurkas. He is known for his octave technique; he could play precise passages in octaves extraordinarily fast. When asked by the pianist Tedd Joselson how he practiced octaves, Horowitz gave a demonstration and Joselson reported, "He practiced them exactly as we were all taught to do." Music critic and biographer Harvey Sachs submitted that Horowitz may have been "the beneficiary - and perhaps also the victim - of an extraordinary central nervous system and an equally great sensitivity to tone color." Oscar Levant, in his book, "The Memoirs of an Amnesiac," wrote that Horowitz's octaves were "brilliant, accurate and etched out like bullets." He asked Horowitz, "whether he shipped them ahead or carried them with him on tour."

Horowitz's hand position was unusual in that the palm was often below the level of the key surface. He frequently played chords with straight fingers, and the little finger of his right hand was often curled up until it needed to play a note; to Harold C. Schonberg, “it was like a strike of a cobra.” For all the aural excitement of his playing, Horowitz rarely raised his hands higher than the piano's fallboard. His body was immobile, and his face seldom reflected anything other than intense concentration.
posted by Trurl at 5:16 PM on November 25, 2011


And typically, in the egalitarian people's paradise of the USSR nearly all the tickets were reserved for the "Nomenclatura" so the concert got stormed by frustrated music students from the Moscow Conservatory.
posted by joannemullen at 5:34 PM on November 25, 2011


Cool. I've watched the Mozart video many times without knowing about the concert. I like how it feels so casual and spontaneous, whereas Mozart usually sounds very grand and meticulous. Does anyone else think he flubs a note at 4:54?
posted by John Cohen at 5:51 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Schumann piece is one of the most achingly beautiful things I've ever heard in my life.

I have a collection of Horowitz playing Chopin from the 50's that's ruined all other Chopin interpretations for me - his touch was so light & delicate. Awesome stuff.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:08 PM on November 25, 2011


When I dream of piano it's Horowitz.

Apparently when he played Moscow, his rendition of Traumerei had people in the audience weeping.
posted by bz at 6:50 PM on November 25, 2011


Yup. It gets me every time. That traumerei rendition is in my meditation mix right after "Meditation".

My degree of separation: there was an older man in the electronic supply shop my parents' place would send me to every so often. After the return concert, he was telling us how his mother had gone to high school with him. She said he never had time to go out or spend with friends. He was all about the piano - practicing for hours and hours.
posted by lysdexic at 7:08 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Soviet Union, music composes you
posted by Renoroc at 7:24 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The DVD of this concert, Horowitz in Moscow, is well worth having. And yes, his playing Träumerei (Dreaming), is a thing of exquisite beauty, utterly compelling and poignant beyond words.
posted by vac2003 at 7:27 PM on November 25, 2011


beautiful - thanks for posting
posted by lukievan at 7:27 PM on November 25, 2011


This may be the best link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyIWVFQhDVw
posted by popechunk at 7:38 PM on November 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


And typically, in the egalitarian people's paradise of the USSR nearly all the tickets were reserved for the "Nomenclatura" so the concert got stormed by frustrated music students from the Moscow Conservatory.

Horowitz held a public rehearsal before the concert, which was packed with students.
posted by gyc at 9:21 PM on November 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


And typically, in the egalitarian people's paradise of the USSR nearly all the tickets were reserved for the "Nomenclatura" so the concert got stormed by frustrated music students from the Moscow Conservatory.

I have to ask: are you a time traveller? The cold war is over. Your side won.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:00 AM on November 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would give my right arm to be able to play like this.

Oh wait...

Ok, my right eye.
posted by fearnothing at 7:06 AM on November 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


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