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.
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