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An Historic Return

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  • An Historic Return

    Vladimir Horowitz • Horowitz at Carnegie Hall

    It took him a year-and-a-half to get to a decision to perform, others urging, prodding, cajoling along the way. To close associates he mused: “a whole generation of young musicians has never heard me, but what if I don’t live up to my reputation; others say I owe it to the concert world and I could make a lot of money, but I hate committing myself to a date so far in advance and the pressure is too much.”

    It may have been music critic Howard Klein who finally convinced him after listening in on the secret Carnegie practice sessions Horowitz undertook in January of 1965: “I’ve heard your records Maestro. In person, you play completely differently. You are like another pianist.”

    An amazing performance. H did make several mistakes - he hit a real clinker right at the outset - but powered through them all. The music is challenging, the interpretations true genius. Mistakes weren't unusual for him at most of his succeeding concerts, but nobody cared. For the album at hand several mistakes were edited out, replaced by practice session snippets. There was something of a flap about that at the time. But in the end he sold a lot of records and nobody but critics and record execs cared about the edits. An unedited version is available through Sony on CD.

    If you want a representative of classic piano playing in your collection, this is a great place to imprint.

  • #2
    I remember the excitement surrounding that concert. I was a college student in Boston and people were trying desperately to get tickets to see him. I didn't succeed. Unlike Serkin and Rubinstein and Cliburn who made Boston a regular stop on their concert tours and whom I got to see, some more than once, Horowitz had stopped concertizing for many years before that Carnegie Hall concert.

    Flash forward to 2002 at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. We were wandering around SLC between events and came upon the Abravanel Concert Hall. To our surprise there was an exhibit of four grand pianos by Steinway. They included the personal pianos of both Cliburn and Horowitz (the one from his home that he played in many of his concerts - the famous CD503). People were allowed to play the pianos, and my wife took her turn playing both Horowitz's and Clliburn's pianos. At that point in her piano playing, she was in the midst of learning all five of the Beethoven Piano Concerti. So she play excerpts from the 4th, 5th and 3rd concerti. What an experience!

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