Horowitz plays Mozart and gets it right on the money
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While Vladimir Horowitz was a piano genius who possessed unparalleled ability to produce color, I've never been a big fan of his Mozart recordings. This CD, however, is the exception to that rule. Perhaps it was the fact that this was the first time he recorded a concerto by Mozart. Or perhaps it resulted from the presence of conductor Carlo Maria Giulini, whose background in opera created the ideal environment for the work of a soloist with an orchestra. Whatever is the explanation, we can be most grateful that Horowitz traveled to Milan with Mozart foremost in his thoughts. With the opening bars of the Allegro movement of this 23rd piano concerto, you're off on a story-book ride where Horowitz's playing flows with the orchestra in a well-balanced, lyrical and delightful performance. The beginning of this piece reminds me of the overtures to Mozart's operas and Horowitz's playing is akin to a diva at center stage. His touch in the first and last movements is deft, delicate, and interspersed with boldness at just the right point to maintain the drama of the work. But it is his realization of the second-movement Adagio that makes this a must-have recording. It's soulful, melancholy, moving and almost brought me to tears. The color is gorgeous. And Giulini's accompaniment with the La Scala Orchestra is ideal. But wait, there's more: the B flat Sonata, chosen by Horowitz because he considers it "is one of Mozart's most advanced and musically rich compositions in that genre." On that day in March of 1987, Horowitz was up to the task. The performance is graceful, enchanting and charming. This recording confirms that for Horowitz, Mozart was "Number 1 for me.""
5 stars for the Concerto, 3 for the Sonata
Eran A. Zamir | Washington, DC | 01/15/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Horowitz was undoubtedly a fantastic pianist, but his strength was more in Romantic pieces, rather than Classical (or Baroque - his recordings of Bach are nothing very special). In fact, I have several of his Mozart sonatas, and they are not particularly good. He varies the tempo and the volume far too much for Mozart. But the concerto on this recording is excellent. Yes, I have read reviews which have criticized things like the sound balance and the orchestra, but I think that Horowitz and Giulini more than make up for these defects by the liveliness and sense of beauty that they bring to the recording. You can tell that everyone in the studio was thrilled to be part of such an unusual and historic event. (Horowitz was, of course, notorious for not recording many concerti.) Their happiness makes this one of the most joy-filled recordings of any Mozart work that I have. Dvorak said that Mozart's music is "sweet sunshine," and listening to this concerto, you can understand why. Alas that Horowitz did not have the chance (or the will or the desire) to record any other Mozart concerto.
Unfortunately, I cannot be as enthusiastic about the sonata. I wouldn't say that it left me cold: the third movement is quite good, with just the right amount of playfulness. But the other two movements are rather nondescript. This, coupled with his disappointing recordings of other Mozart sonatas, makes me think that he did not really understand Mozart's solo works.
But, overall, the disc is worth getting. I got it used and it is one of the best purchases I have ever made. I think it belongs in the collection of any Mozart lover."
A Must-Have Mozart Recording
J. Dorazio | Philadelphia, PA | 04/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I read some of the nit-picking criticisms from fellow reviewers regarding this gorgeous recording, I'm simply astounded at their arrogance. I would like to hear them attempt something similar! I don't care how learned or jaded any of you may be, this recording is worth listening to again and again.
Horowitz (like Mozart) was brilliant at any age, even 84. No other could compare to Horowitz's uniqueness. Giulini is equally brilliant and together they've recorded a unique masterpiece, and a must-have recording of one of Mozart's most beloved concertos. Not too many out there that feature a cadenza by Busoni, by the way, that adds one more fascinating dimension to this performance.
We will NEVER know exactly what Mozart intended, which is the real miracle of great music -- in that it allows the performers to imbue their own unique interpretation to what was written on the score. That's what makes the work of the great classical composers so astonishing. No criticisms necessary here; just sit back and enjoy the glorious sound.