Mieczyslaw Horszowski was 94 years old when he performed at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 12, 1986 -- and as this recording of the concert all too clearly demonstrates, he sounded every minute of it. The famed "Horszowski tone," so admired by Perahia and Lupu, is still beautiful, but frail, tarnished, and much reduced. The famed "Horszowski interpretation," so admired by Schiff and Goode, is still insightful but gray, dry, and diminished. One can still hear glimmers of the Horszowski that was in the depth of the Adagio of Mozart's D minor Fantasia, the weight of the Largo appassionato from Beethoven's A major Sonata, the voicing of the chorale from Franck's Prélude, choral et fugue, and the opening of the final movement of Schumann's Kinderszenen. But these are only glimmers and only for moments. Too soon, the depths turns murky, the weight turns sloppy, the voicing turns messy, and the final movement of Kinderszenen turns to mush. And the rest of the recital is worse -- much worse -- because Horszowski's technique, never among the best, was nearly shot by 1986. There's little lucidity in his Bach fugues, less strength in his Beethoven's Allegro vivace, even less stamina in his Franck's Fugue, and virtually no poetry in most of his Schumann's Kinderszenen. Nor does the grainy, harsh, and dull recorded sound flatter Horszowski. For fans of the pianist, this disc may be an unlooked for memento mori. For the most everyone else, this disc may be of negligible significance.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 10 in E minor (WTC I/10), BWV 855 (BC L89)|
|Prelude and Fugue, for keyboard No. 15 in G major (WTC I/15), BWV 860 (BC L94)|
|Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 2/2|
|Prélude, choral, et fugue, for piano, M. 21|
|Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) for piano, Op. 15|