…The performances captured throughout the film, however, are gigantic in the extreme.
At the end of his life, Horowitz had chosen to record for Deutsche Grammophon. The Hamburg label reissues all of its recordings, 6 CDs, commemorating the centenary of the birth of the pianist.
It may surprise you to learn that, despite his untouchable reputation with the public, Vladimir Horowitz enjoyed a certain dubious reputation with the critics. For many, he was the epitome of the witless virtuoso, all technique and vulgar display, and no brains. There was some truth in this to the extent that he really could be variable on record, but by general consensus his Masterworks recordings show him at his absolute best.
It may surprise you to learn that, despite his untouchable reputation with the public, Vladimir Horowitz enjoyed a certain dubious reputation with the critics. For many, he was the epitome of the witless virtuoso, all technique and vulgar display, and no brains.
This feast for the ears almost defies classification. Richard Horowitz is probably best known for his award-winning score to the Bernardo Bertolucci movie, The Sheltering Sky. Featured on the album is Tehran singer Sussan Deyhim; her voice is extremely expressive in an "x-tatic" Middle Eastern style, with its distinctive embellishments and phrasing. Horowitz takes recordings of her voice and layers it in subtle yet exotic tapestries and harmonies. This is not the ripoff sampling done so often on ambient dance albums. Deyhim's voice is the center of the compositions, and her artistry is always honored. At times, her combined voices sound like the Manhattan Transfer, but when the title track features 84 recombined samples of her voice, the result is very unique. Although the sound processing is important, the album features many live musicians, including world music expert Jaron Lanier and members of the Moroccan National Radio and Television Orchestra. Majoun offers layers upon veils of mysteries and never stoops to trite Middle Eastern musical clichés. Highly recommended.
This double album presents, for the first time on recording, a Chicago concert and broadcast recorded in 1986, when Horowitz was 83. The music that exists from the last few years of Horowitz's life has a marvelous rarefied quality, and this live recording – marred by heavy early-season coughing about which Horowitz complains in one of the two included radio interviews, but enhanced by the immediacy of the live situation – is no exception. Horowitz was never the most purely muscular pianist out there (although he could make octaves ring when he had to), and not the most intellectual. But he was perhaps the most perfectionistic of the great pianists, taking stretches of several years off to rebuild his technique and his musical understanding when he felt his playing was not up to snuff.
All Horowitz fans will instantly love this recording from Carnegie Hall on November 16, 1975. They will gaze at the marvels of his Schumann, gasp at the miracles of his Liszt, and gape at the wonders of his Rachmaninov. His Chopin will astound them, his Debussy will amaze them, and his Moszkowski will astonish them. Jon Samuels' arduous editing will gratify them and RCA's assiduous sound will satisfy them. For all Horowitz fans, this release will be immensely welcome. For non-Horowitz fans, there is not much in this to love.
Joseph Kerman was a leading musicologist, music critic, and music educator from the 1950s to the 2000s. He reshaped our understanding and appreciation of Western classical music with his first book, Opera as Drama (1956), to his last, Opera and the Morbidity of Music (2008), including his studies on Bach, Beethoven, William Byrd, concertos, and more. He was a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, where he served two terms as chair of the Music Department. He wrote Listen together with his wife, Vivian Kerman.