Along with the extramusical significance of the aged Horowitz's return to his erstwhile homeland, there's plenty here for seekers of the essential Horowitz. Perhaps his finest Mozart recording, the C-major Sonata, gets a f... more »orward-moving reading distinguished by an Andante Cantabile movement that sings the music with the tonal splendor and command of line characteristic of the beloved bel canto singers of the past whom Horowitz looked to as musical models. The program's remainder is as formidable, and only a curmudgeon could fail to smile with delight at a favorite Horowitz encore, Rachmaninoff's Polka de W.R. --Dan Davis« less
Along with the extramusical significance of the aged Horowitz's return to his erstwhile homeland, there's plenty here for seekers of the essential Horowitz. Perhaps his finest Mozart recording, the C-major Sonata, gets a forward-moving reading distinguished by an Andante Cantabile movement that sings the music with the tonal splendor and command of line characteristic of the beloved bel canto singers of the past whom Horowitz looked to as musical models. The program's remainder is as formidable, and only a curmudgeon could fail to smile with delight at a favorite Horowitz encore, Rachmaninoff's Polka de W.R. --Dan Davis
"There are famous historical events in music that resonate down through the centuries; the debut of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, the premier performance of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring that resulted in a riot in Paris. The return of Russian-born Vladimir Horowitz to Moscow on Sunday, April 20, 1986 was such an event. After 60 years, one of the world's greatest pianists returned to play for his former homeland. It was big news. It still is.This cd is a recording of the live event, and opens with the Scarlatti E Major Sonata. Horowitz championed the music of Scarlatti and played it as no one else ever had, so this is a wonderful piece to begin with. But it's the Scriabin that I come back for, time and again, to listen to this CD. There are two etudes on this album (Op. 2#1 and Op. 8 #12.) All the romance, transient dissonance, moodiness and melodic richness of Scriabin are here, played by a pianist whose sound is like no one else's. Even if you aren't an afficionado of music history, this is an important CD as it is a live performance and has a really good representative selection of the Horowitz type of repertoire, from Rachmaninoff, Scriabin to Scarlatti, Liszt, Schumann (another Horowitz speciality) and even a Moszkowski showpiece. This is piano history at its pinnacle."
Hank Drake | Cleveland, OH United States | 11/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Vladimir Horowitz's April 20, 1986 Moscow recital has become so legendary that further comment seems superfluous.
To say that this concert was an emotional experience is understatement. A lesser pianist might have wilted under the pressure, and many expected Horowitz would cancel. (He nearly did, after learning Vladimir Feltsman's piano had been vandalized following a concert at the American embassy. It took a phone call from President Reagan to persuade him to continue with the trip.)
At 82, Horowitz seems ecstatically inspired here. He is in finer form here than he was in his 1985 recitals, where he occasionally sounded rusty. In the more bravura pieces, he uses a full dynamic range, which he mostly avoided at this time. Some of the performances, particularly the Liszt Sonetto, recall the fiery Horowitz of the 1940s. Yet, there is a balance and inner warmth that was largely missing in his earlier years. Certainly, the young Horowitz would not have delivered the sprightly, bouncy Scarlatti Sonata (superior to performances from 1951 and 1968), or the charming Mozart Sonata (far preferable to the drab version taped in his living room one year earlier). But it's with the Russian repertoire that Horowitz hits his stride, from Rachmaninoff's sunny G major Prelude to Scriabin's stormy D-sharp minor Etude - - where the bass notes ring as resoundingly as the bells of the Kremlin. The Chopin Mazurkas are offered with the bewitching melancholy that caused a German critic to rave over Horowitz ("Piano Culture Reawakened", read the 1926 headline). If the sparks of Moszkowski's Etincelles don't flicker as incandescently as they did in earlier days, Schumann's Traumerei sings with a new and heartfelt simplicity.
For the record, not all of the performances on this CD come from the actual recital. The Scarlatti Sonata, first movement from the Mozart Sonata, Rachmaninoff G major Prelude and Polka, and Schubert-Liszt Soirées de Vienne came from the public rehearsal two days before the concert. However, no intersplicing was done within movements, so this is really how Horowitz played at that time.
The sound is excellent, if a bit close. I heard Horowitz in concert in Boston this same year - - this is how he sounded. "
Oh, God...5 stars would be simply unfair...
Mauro Guzzo Decca | São Paulo, Brazil. | 06/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Upon hearing this record for the first time, I had to pinch myself to make sure I was actually listening to such an amazing, if not perfect display of talent and beauty. After having listened to it over and over again along the years, maybe more than 1000 times, I still find it hard to believe that the guy was even a human being. The only fair review for such a record would be a wordless one: nothing I can write or say would do justice to the rich, almost infinte world of emotions, thoughts and colors he's able to convey through his playing. 20 stars. ;-)"
Horowitz in Moscow: in words of an eyewitness
Anton Zimmerling | Moscow, Russia | 01/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I decided to add my post and describe my impressions, since I was there at the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory and listened to Horowitz on April 20, 1986. I could not imagine that after some 20 years I would write these lines on the amazon.com. May I at once say that there has never been a cult of Horowitz in this country. Our own cult figures, Richter and Gilels, were very critical of him, and our piano teachers advised against imitating Horowitz and blamed his taste. Local pianophils had other models in mind - either Russian (Rachmaninov, Sofronitsky etc) or German (Schnabel, Gieseking, Backhaus etc). Local collectionists had Horowitz LPs, but few opinions concerning them were shared: only Horowitz' Scarlatti and Clementi were generally welcome. But at the time of his concert all that was forgotten and everyone was electricised: the chance to see a legend and a former compatriot was enticing. I remember how difficult it was to get through the crowd and pass through the guards. The hall was overcrowded, people sitting in all the aisles. The recital started with a big delay: some overfree figures (sound engineers) trying the piano and testing the equipment were on the scene. Finally, they disappeared and Horowitz came to light. From the first beat it became clear that his approach to music was different from what we had heard on most of his CDs: the phrasing was convincing, the playing more inward and the pianist was cherishing each note as a treasure. The program was thought-of cleverly. He started with Scarlatti and Mozart KV 330 - both were fine, but Rachmaninov and Scriabin, especially the latter, were a real deal: after such ravishing performances he could play virtually everything and get a stormy applause. Certainly, Chopin's Mazurkas were excellent, too. Today I am less fond of both Liszt items (the so called `Petrarca 104 sonetto' and Soirée No. 6), but I enjoyed them when I was sitting in the hall. Comparing this recital with Horowitz other sound documents from the same period, I can confirm that he was in a good form. One of the reviewers above wrote about the `magical connection with the average listeners', when `the performer and the audience feed on each other'. Of course, that evening the inspiration was with him. But he also had rehearsed each item a lot and anticipated this concert as a big event. I happened to hear a fragment of his playing at the Scriabin museum close to the date of this recital: it was disappointing. And keep in mind that two Scriabin studies (Op. 8/2 and Op. 2/1) were probably the most successful items in the Great Hall on April 20, 1986. Hank Drake kindly reminds in his review that some items, incl. Rachmaninoff G major Prelude and Polka, and Schubert-Liszt Soirées de Vienne came not from the actual recital, but from the public rehearsal two days before the concert. I have not been there, so I cannot compare the two variants (I wonder who, except for the DG engineers, can). But I can confirm that all these items were *not* the most successful ones in the recital. I definitely enjoyed the G sharp minor Prelude more than the G major one when I was sitting in the hall: I still think it was a thrilling performance of this masterpiece. "
Horowitz in tip-top shape
rockerford | Oregon | 06/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so this isn't Horowitz hurling thunderbolts as much as he did in his earlier years, but in the Sonetto del Petrarcha by Liszt, be definitely gets some good bolts in.Wait, let's start from the top of the program: The notes of the delightful and charming Scarlatti E-major Sonata are clear and precise. Horowitz spans the architecture of this "gross kleinkunst" -- i.e., great art done in the smaller forms.The Mozart Sonata is unaffected and soulful. (The 2nd mvt. is especially beautiful, as performed here by Horowitz.)Horowitz's renditions of the Rachmaninoff preludes and the Scriabin etudes are proudly played with much enthusiasm, which is evident in the performance. With the Schubert/Liszt composition, one has a hard time deciding whether Horowitz does better in the songful interludes or the fiery sections: both are superbly done with un-earthly beauty.Horowitz plays the pair of Chopin mazurkas with style and elegance. Too bad the "Heroic" polonaise, which was on the program, didn't make it onto this disc.The encores are typically "Horowitzean," in that he mixes exquisite poetry (Traumerei) with stunning virtuousity (Enticilles and the Polka of V.Rachmaninoff). Interestingly, though, these two compositions are not heavy and over-serious."Horowitz in Moscow" is definitely an historical document, with much great musical content as well."