Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Double Image - Vladimir Horowitz

After hearing the recently released recordings from his private collection out of Yale, all of which were live performances at Carnegie Hall, made between 1945 and 1950, I came to a kind of realization about this towering musician that had not formed until the present time, even after all the years of having seen and heard him during my younger period.
There are two Horowitzes, seemingly; at least, to me:
In the studio recordings, we hear one Vladimir Horowitz - in the live recordings, we hear another. An explanation:
In both the studio and live performances we hear, of course, the unparalleled power of communication that this man possessed; the wonderfully steely sound, the unmatched range of dimensional change, both in the physical technique and in the interpretive projections, however at times perhaps controversial, and the commitment to the art and a special kind of integrity that gave us a true language, no matter how close the immense finger powers he had came to extinguishing the basic idea.
However, one reality, in my view, that one hears in the live concerts and recitals that is not available in the studio recordings, at least most of the time, is that undefinable "edge" that adds to the excitement that he already projects. That "edge," as it were, was probably formed by the kinds of fear that accompanied Horowitz through much of his career, and from time to time, resulted in his quest for answers from specialists - and those fears were, I believe, based upon an ongoing fear of his "failing" before a live audience.
I sometimes feel that Horowitz was actually part of his own audience; that is, wondering about what was to happen in performance, as he was driven to find different strategies and various "ways" of dealing with the music he was performing - of course, all great performers always "search" as they play; however, in Horowitz' case, there seemed to be a level of adventure in his "searching" that, seemingly, created a kind of arcane resistance against him in the form of a unique form of challenge to his searching for the answer of the moment.
This wondrous admixture of a kind of neurotic brilliance and diaphanous poetry is, to me, the result I hear in his live performances. Horowitz is alone, and on a pedestal belonging to him only.

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