Friday, January 15, 2016

What Would Horowitz's Reactions Be ?...

If  Vladimir  Horowitz, arguably the 20th century's most powerful  pianist, were to come back today, just for a short visit, what would his reactions be? I wonder?
In recent days and weeks, I have been coming across performances of some of the Horowitz transcriptions played by a clutch of young pianists. As far as I've gone, the "Stars and Stripes Forever"" transcription appears to be the most  oft-played. The one most eye/ear 'catching' I've seen thus far is the performance by the young pianist Benjamin  Grovesnor. It was recorded,  I believe, when he was about eighteen, and the ease and fluidity which he projects is positively staggering - almost as if he were going through a Cramer exercise, with no palpable resistance detectable. Other performances by Kulenov and Sultanov are also  available,and can  be seen as well. In every incarnation I've been witness to, there simply is no detectable mode of resistance, the result being a performance  of a Horowitz transcription with no sign of   a Dionysian struggle extant.
The celebrated Russian Arcadi Volodos, in his playing of  Horowitz transcriptions, does give us the kind of  unfettered excitement that we associate with Horowitz, in his  legendary performances.
Sadly, he is the only pianist performing today whom I know of,  that makes the atmosphere move around these vaunted works  that celebrate and serve as encomiums to the pyrotechniques that were created by Liszt almost two centuries ago.
Which leads to another issue I have become increasingly aware of; that is, an age of emerging young pianists who can do anything with their fingers that a Horowitz or a Rachmaninoff could do, virtually incapable of playing a wrong note, but saying almost nothing.
Are there others out there like me who wonder, with some sense of foreboding, or at least discomfort, about the whereabouts of the spiritual core of this arcane language? Has it gone into hiding? Are there any teachers out there, representing other instruments, who have the same sense of 'what is happening to the message?'
Or am I alone?

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