Horowitz Up-Close and Personal
Hank Drake | Cleveland, OH United States | 08/05/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1983, Vladimir Horowitz retired from the concert stage following a series of disastrous recitals. Rumors about his health from Alzheimer's disease to cancer swept through the music world, and it was generally felt that he would never play again. As it turned out, Horowitz had been taking anti-depressant medication which impaired his memory and coordination. Once the cause of his problems was revealed, he stopped taking the medication cold-turkey and, after battling the trials of withdrawal, eventually returned to normal. Early in 1985, Horowitz told his manager, Peter Gelb, that he wanted to resume musical activity, but didn't yet feel up to the task of public recitals. The documentary contained on this DVD was Horowitz' way of easing into the rigors of concertizing.This film shows Horowitz trying out pianos in Steinway's famous basement, discussing his life, and performing in his elegantly appointed New York townhouse. Wanda Toscanini Horowitz is ever present, recalling how she lived under the shadow of famous musicians (her father was Artuto Toscanini)and encouraging her husband in his reaquaintance with the piano.Horowitz, 81 years young at the time, plays very well here--although his performance is not quite on the same level it would be one year later at his legendary Moscow recital (also available on DVD). The Bach-Busoni Chorale, Mozart Sonata, and Schumann Novelette reveal the playing of a grand master in sovereign command of his resources. It must be admited however, some of the more bravura pieces do not match his best playing from earlier years. At one point, Wanda scolds him for neglecting to practice the Schumann Novelette. Horowitz reluctantly waddles to the piano, tries a few passages, and it's obvious his memory of the piece is sketchy. After reading the piece from the printed music, he plays the Novelette as if he has known it his entire life!The hand held camera work is often too close and shaky--ala Blair Witch Project--and becomes a distraction at times. In a reversal of the norm, the DVD transfer is visually not quite up to the level of my LaserDisc, but is an improvement over the VHS version. Portions of the image look compressed and grainy. No complaints about the sound. The sonic image is clean and well focused, the dynamic range spectacular.This is a must for all Horowitz fans and those who miss the Golden Age of Pianism."
Jian Zhuang | Granite Bay, CA USA | 09/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like DVD "Horowitz in Moscow", this is another wonderful Horowitz DVD. I have the CD by Deutsche Grammophon for all the same music in this DVD, but this DVD has a lot more than just piano music. It showed a lot of personnalities of this, perhaps, the greatest pianist of all time and it is a piece of vanished history. His facial expressions, interviews and comments to the composors between the pieces are so funny and make him so lovable an old gentleman. Close and different camera angles certainly help you view his unique and unduplicatable playing style. I have to admit that some of pieces with physical passages in this DVD may not match Horowitz's earlier recordings especially the Moszkowski's Etude in F Major which is in the CD but only as a background music for this DVD's production recognition. All the recordings are still excellent and very tastful. If I am asked to recommend DVDs for any piano lovers, I will place this DVD on one of the top list without any hesitation."
An intimate meeting with Vladimir Horowitz
Yair Haklai | 08/26/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD gives us the possibility of approaching the artist and his world as much as possible. We are taken to his home studio with his supporting wife , and get to know Horowitz as a warm person. Horowitz knows very well all the technical aspects of playing the piano. He has done his homework, and while he plays he is concentrated on the projection of what he feels the Composer want us to feel. When Horowitz plays he projects us musical piece as a whole, every note has a meaning in the development and the structure and the movement of the work. His range of expression is very wide, Horowitz as he says, has an angel and a devil inside him. He has an ability of understanding a piece of music and expressing it in his playing that takes us as deep as possible. Horowitz as he says, don't look for inhuman perfection, and that is ok to play in public rehearsal one wrong note. In my opinion Horowitz is interested, as all great artists, in communication, creating something that will last for a long time."
He has the music!
Val Harrop | Houston, TX USA | 01/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I loved this DVD. It's a documentary, not a concert. Horowitz retired from performing from 1983-85 after suffering from memory lapses and lack of coordination caused by drugs prescribed for the clinical depression that he grappled with his whole life. I think that makes this disk especially moving. Health recovered at no little mental and physical cost, Horowitz again has all the music and finds a deep joy and satisfaction in playing it! Playing for friends in his home was his typical way of tuning up for public performance. And he went on from this to his triumph in Moscow in 1986 and a final concert tour in Europe in 1987. To respond slightly to another reviewer, Horowitz says nothing about the Mozart and that it "was not bad for an old man" after the Schezro. His comment that "I cannot do better" comes after an exquisite rendition of the Rachmaninoff Prelude. Therefore, my take on that comment is different. I don't think he was disatisfied. Quite the contrary, he knew he was one with the music and he was content. In all, this disk gives a wonderful insight into one of the great artists of the 20th century."