I always am on the lookout for new DVD’s and CD’s of terrific young artists. Periodically, however, I listen again to old favorites, some of whom have died long ago. Such was the case last night when I listened again to Vladimir Horowitz.
Horowitz was born in Kiev, Russia in 1903, and he gave his first concert in the US in 1928. This DVD is a record of his preparations and eventual “Return” concert in Russia in 1986.
As such, here’s an 85 year old man, and I wondered if I would notice a decline in the playing of an outstanding pianist at his age. Sure… he plays several selections to prove that at his age he still possessed the technique to be able to perform pieces that show off pianistic pyrotechnics. And I cheered his success! However, for me the larger enjoyment came from the much simpler pieces, where Horowitz took me on a journey of inner maturity, old recollections, and spiritual peace.
Horowitz performs shorter pieces by Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and others. The unforgettable feelings – for me – came from his interpretations of Scriabin, Scarlatti, Schubert, and Schumann. He had played for Scriabin as a child, so there are clearly his own memories there. And he personally knew Sergei Rachmaninoff, so playing that composer’s music is certainly a doubly meaningful experience for performer and listener alike.
Close to the end of this DVD, Horowitz plays the Traumerei (Dreaming) from Schumann’s Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood). I know of no pianist who can compare to Horowitz’ rendition of that brief experience!
You can see the audience reaction from the DVD video: Tears rolling down from a man’s eyes, as he sits motionless listening to this Schumann interpretation.
If you’d like to listen to samples or purchase this DVD, click on the following: