Post by Dan Koren Post by Ssg217 Post by Christian Johansson Post by arri bachrach Post by Dan Koren Post by fan
Which ones did Horowitz record?
None. He did not have the technique
to perform the Transcendentals, and
neither do most of the pianists who
have attempted or recorded them.
I am not sure if you are right or wrong about Horowitz. I suspect he
just did not want to bother to learn all of them but it is possible
you might just be right.
No this is just nonsense of course. Horowitz played both Mazeppa and
Feux Follets and tossed them both off like nothing according to the
dozen or so reviews I've read of concerts with them on the program.
His reason for not including more from the set in his repertoire was
because of their, in his opinion, musical shortcomings. "You have to
be very selective with Leeezt". He also played four of the Paganini
Etudes, of which two were recorded and show just how much problems he
had with Liszt's pianowriting.
More facts and less home made conclusions next time Koren!
Ouch! Dan, I feel for you.
Not at all.
I stand by what I said.
First, Volodya did not record any of the TE's, even though as
CJ pointed out he did perform a few of them live. Second, it
is a lot easier for to awe a live audience with a theatrical
good performance than to convince a critical listener with
deep knowledge of the score and the instrument, and who
listens repeatedly with score in hand.
Having heard most (if not all) of Volodya's recordings, as
well as Richter's, Cziffra's and Berman's, I do not doubt
for a moment that his *OVERALL* technique was not up to
those of the other pianists I mentioned. BTW Volodya
himself was quoted as saying "leave that to Richter"
when one of his producers suggested Scriabin's etude
in ninths for a program. Horowitz was a very astute
artist and knew how to showcase his technique in the
best possible light -- which clearly involved other
elements, such as touch, color, articulation, etc...
At the same time, it should be very obvious to the
listener with a trained ear and intimate knowledge
of the instrument and the repertoire that Horowitz
did not even come close to Lhevinne or Cziffra, and
sometimes Richter and Berman for sheer technical
You 'stand by what you said' (that Horowitz didn't record any of the
Transcendentals because he 'hadn't the technique'), but I am at a loss to
find your arguments for so doing.
Firstly, there is much repertoire that Horowitz, along with every other
pianist, did not record, & this is not evidence that they did not have the
technique to play it.
Your second point - "it is a lot easier for (sic) to awe a live audience
with a theatrical(sic) good performance than to convince a critical listener
with deep knowledge of the score and the instrument, and who listens
repeatedly with score in hand" - is presumably intended to address
Christian's reasonable claim that Horowitz COULD play (some of) the TS's
because he actually DID, & did so to great critical acclaim.
What you seem to be saying here is that, ok, perhaps Horowitz DID play at
least 2 transcendental studies, & perhaps his audiences 'thought' they were
fantastic performances, but that "a critical listener with deep knowledge of
the score and the instrument, and who listens repeatedly with score in hand'
would know that in fact he wasn't playing them, or wasn't playing them 'very
well' or 'properly'? In short, you're claiming that Horowitz, in his prime,
programmed & played at least two pieces of music to great critical acclaim,
but in fact he didn't have the technique to play them, and somehow or
other - by the use of 'showmanship' - he managed to 'con' his audience into
believing otherwise. After all, even your hypothetical 'critical listener'
has to 'listen repeatedly with the score (&, doubtless, stop-watch &
metronome!) in hand' in order to spot the 'faking' &, presumably, ensure
s/he isn't exposed to the risk of enjoying a Horowitz recital..
However, you also concede that "Horowitz was a very astute artist and knew
how to showcase his technique in the best possible light". Here's your
problem: if this is true, & he 'hadn't the technique' to play Mazeppa & Feux
Follets - why did he play them in public? I agree with you that Horowitz
knew what he could & couldn't play - he freely admitted this on many
occasions - which is why if, when in his prime, he played something in
public we can be quite sure he could play it adequately enough to give a
valid musical performance.
Given the above, the only reason I can see for you to 'stand by' your
original assertion is to see that it gets a decent burial!
Btw, I'm also curious which edition of the Transcendental Studies you're
referring to: for it to include a version of Paysage that is more difficult
that the E-Flat Paganini Study recorded by Horowitz, I assume it must be
pretty special - is there a Cziffra-Hamelin-Volodos edition, by any chance?
And on which particular planet is 'Harmonies du Soir' more difficult than
the Rach/3 - so carefully avoided by Richter (who also, unlike Horowitz,
avoided Mazeppa, of course) but swallowed whole by Horowitz?...
From your remarks about technique, unguarded listeners might assume that
Horowitz used 'extra-pianistic' means to 'awe' his audience in order to
produce a 'theatrical(ly) good performance', as though he habitually put on
a clown's costume & juggled oranges with his feet while playing or somesuch.
Yet it is well known that the opposite is the case, and that he was very
quiet at the piano - all he did was sit down & play it. What Horowitz seems
to have been able to to do was understand the piano he was playing, the hall
he was playing in, and the audience he was playing to, so well that he could
generate a rather unique form of excitement that many have enjoyed. And that
took some 'technique'.
One other thing I find puzzling in your remarks: if I understand you
correctly, you do not include "touch, color, articulation" (perhaps you'd
add 'pedalling'?) as components of piano technique? (You refer to these as
'other elements'). If this is so, it would explain your disdain for
Horowitz, since these were aspects of 'controlling the piano' to which
Horowitz devoted exceptional attention with outstanding results, compared
even to those other pianists your mention. You may disagree, but personally
I regard these as essential aspects of piano technique, which I would define
as 'the means to use the piano to provide maximum musical
impact'......(Rachmaninoff, more succintly, defined it as 'what, where & how
Finally, you mention Lhevinne, & here again I am curious. He left very few
recordings - I have most most of them I think, 8 complete works plus an
incomplete Tchaik/1. Which, amongst this very limited evidence, justifies
your claim that "Horowitz did not even come close to Lhevinne"?....Listening
to Lhevinne's octaves, for instance, in Op25/10 & the Tchaik 1, then hearing
Horowitz in eg. Tchaik 1/Szell, I find your claim difficult to understand.
There seems nothing in Lhevinne's small legacy that outshine's any of the
great Horowitz recordings, although comparison's are difficult when not
comparing like-for-like. We can only do that on 2 occasions, I think - the
Tchaik/1 1st & 3rd movements, Schumann's Toccata, (ignoring Chopin Op25/10
for obvious reasons, even though the fragments Horowitz left of this contain
quite awesome 'music making'). In both of these works Lhevinne is
technically 'more cautious' than Horowitz where virtuosity is normally
displayed, and on neither occasion does Lhevinne evidence greater
'musicality', at least to my taste. Are you privy to some additional hoard
of Lhevinne recordings that are reserved only for that select breed of
'critical listeners' such as yourself, or are you pursuaded by written
critical reports that you disallow in the case of Horowitz?....