SCHUBERT: Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960; Six Moments Musicals; 4 Impromptus/BACH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV 1052; MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor – Mieczyslaw Horszowski, piano – Arbiter

by | Aug 19, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

SCHUBERT: Sonata in B-flat Major, D. 960; Six Moments Musicals,
D. 780; 4 Impromptus, D. 935/BACH: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, BWV
1052; MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor, K. 491 – Mieczyslaw
Horszowski, piano Musica Aeterna Orchestra/Frederic Waldman (Bach) San
Juan Festival Orchestra/Alexander Schneider (Mozart)

Arbiter 145  78:51; 66:15 (Distrib. Qualiton)****:

Extremely rare inscriptions, 1966-1968,  from the legacy of Polish
virtuoso and pedagogue Mieczyslaw Horszowski (1892-1993), possibly the
most enduring instrumentalist in history, for the sheer longevity of
his art. A pianist of subtle refinement and intimate projection,
Horszowski eschewed the demonic aspects of music, selecting rather
those pieces from the repertory which showed off his plastic, lyric
temperament and capacities for rhythmic inflection. Constantly striving
to make himself the invisible medium through which the music flowed,
Horszowski’s art, one derived from Leschetizky and Szymanowski, was
anything but self-serving. Only the interactive, searching qualities of
each of his performances testify to the fierce will of the artist.

The Schubert playing is all Apollinian in character: fluid, flexible,
with buoyantly vocal phrasing.  The last of the Four Impromptus is
cut short just before the final pages but until that point it has
bouncing, persuasive arch. Horszowski’s Bach is quite driven, not
pointillist like Glenn Gould’s, but nonetheless marked by sharp
staccato runs and lightning filigree. A natural Mozartean, Horszowski
communicates the tight-lipped tragedy in the C Minor Concerto without
any trace of sentimentality. Utilizing a first movement cadenza by
Denis Matthews, the performance from San Juan (29 May 1968) has a
slightly better sound quality than the 1966 Schubert group, which is
sporadically scratchy and distracting. The real catch is the Schubert
B-flat Sonata, played in a manner reminiscent of Artur Rubinstein, who
likewise permitted this piece direct communication without salient
personal idiosyncrasies. The sense of loss permeates the opening two
movements, but the natural Stoic reigns, not the thespian. This is a
special set, a glory for collectors, despite some audiophile

–Gary Lemco

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