The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17613
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Lance » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:29 am

Let's face it, we all have our favourite musical performing artists. Most of the reasons we prefer an artist are for the musical reasons rather than the extra-musical, though sometimes personalities come into the picture. We occasionally run into those who don't share our particular love for certain artists. I, for example, am not fond of the sound of soprano Maria Callas's voice past about year 1956 or '57. There are those who think I am off my rocker. Regardless of her vocal qualities, as a singing actress I have no qualms; I think she's superlative just about any time. For me, the voices of Montserrat Caballé or Joan Sutherland offer more aural beauty. I use these names only as examples applying to yours truly and his thoughts.

Those of us who have studied the piano for many years, or have a particular love for piano music and its interpretation, generally concur on what sets some artists apart from others. It is, for example, generally held that Walter Gieseking was a master in performing the impressionistic music of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. (Others agree he is far less successful in say, the solo piano music of Mozart.) Generally, Artur Rubinstein is given the distinction of- and is considered universally to be among the finest performers of the music of Frédéric Chopin. [It is a given: there are others that play Chopin as beautifully or perhaps even more so.] When it comes to pianist Vladimir Horowitz, he decidedly has his camps, the larger one, it appears, is quite enamoured with his unique artistry. For many, Horowitz achieves what many of us have attempted to accomplish over a lifetime of playing- and studying the piano. Other pianists achieve it as well. Horowitz, however, stands alone, in that he has his own particular "sound," and a use of rubato and tonal properties that is unique just to Horowitz. He brings something special to the music that is very different but more than acceptable by the composer's printed page. Those who know the piano intimately can usually recognize the "Horowitz sound." He achieves what many of us would like to achieve with the piano's 88 keys and three pedals. To us, this constitutes great art at the highest level. This is not mere hype to sell records, but an added dimension in the art of making music—or giving music to the public—that remains memorable and perhaps even incomparable. Obviously, untrained musical ears will not enjoy everything performed or recorded by Horowitz, Rubinstein, of any other artist or instrumentalist, conductor, or vocalist.

These great artists of the past have given us a legacy ... a foundation—if you like—to continue to pursue our art ... to enjoy what we love in music, perhaps using as a guideline what those before us have given a lifetime to understand. In essence, it teaches us. If we don't need teachers of any kind, why bother studying at all? If Horowitz, Rubinstein, Callas, Sutherland, Fiedler, Cortot, Haskil, Heifetz, Gieseking, Bolet, Furtwängler, Toscanini, Grumiaux, etc., et al is not for you, then so be it. For me, I have been given direction, instruction, great musical pleasure and understanding of the great masters by most of these artists named herein who have left indelible impressions and have achieved their well-earned universal success through hard work and immeasurable study merged with natural talent. I can also greatly appreciate other artists' creativity and continue to support them by going to hear their recitals and concerts and by buying their recordings.

I just thought I'd throw out these comments since we occasionally get thrown by comments by our membership that might not coincide with our own thoughts.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

MarkC
Posts: 1630
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:52 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by MarkC » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:44 am

Nice post. :)

(I guess you wrote it just in these past few hours. That's some great work.)

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17647
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:00 am

Count me out, i'm not going to even read what you wrote...sorry, Lance...
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

MarkC
Posts: 1630
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:52 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by MarkC » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:03 am

That's OK, I don't think it was particularly for you. :)

Chalkperson
Disposable Income Specialist
Posts: 17647
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 1:19 pm
Location: New York City
Contact:

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Chalkperson » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:18 am

Chalkperson wrote:Count me out, i'm not going to even read what you wrote...sorry, Lance...
I'm Horowitzed out, i'm sure it was a really good post, that's why I said sorry to Lance for not reading it...
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

barney
Posts: 2926
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:12 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by barney » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:04 am

Oh. another Horowitz thread. Hooray!

Actually, I read it Lance and consider it typically balanced and intelligent work from you.

barney
Posts: 2926
Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 11:12 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by barney » Tue Feb 16, 2010 7:07 am

Oops, that's a bit ambiguous, isn't it?

Reminds me of the chap who rang a local station and said "Just want to tell you how much I enjoy your show."
Announcer: "Gee, thanks Wayne."
Wayne: "Yeah. Not very much at all."

Or the best example of the lot, already cited before. "Thank you for sending me this material. I shall lose no time in reading it."

Lance, I meant - of course - well-balanced and highly intelligent.

slofstra
Posts: 8900
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by slofstra » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:19 am

I believe that we have to keep technical evaluation separate from opinion. Many of us here are just stating 'opinions'. For example, when I watch figure skating, I have no basis to assess who will win the contest. That is a technical evaluation. But I might like this or that couple because of the grace and movement, the costume, or even the shape of the girl's legs. Much of which the judges do not consider.

I'm always amazed at how many musicians I've met have very little in the way of musical taste. Not all, but there are many who have very strong prejudices, usually to their own brand of music making, and they tend to listen only within a very narrow band or genre of music. So those are individuals who can make a very good technical evaluation of the merits of a specific performance or within a genre, but OTOH they may not have an opinion that translates well to the non-musician. So generally I have grown to mistrust musicians' opinions even though they are better suited to making a technical evaluation. What I mean is that I respect those opinions, but just because a musician or someone with technical knowledge will tell me that X is better than Y, my ears and mind may often tell me the opposite.

The other aspect that comes into this, is that we all evaluate in different ways. I enjoy music that is relatively busy, and is structurally complex. I tend to dislike overly expressive playing, esp if the playing is cliched. Those are aspects of how I form my opinions. I'll be the first to say that I have no competence at making a technical evaluation of performance ability. I do enjoy having those things pointed out to me by someone that does know.

My opinion is that Georgian chant is boring, but that doesn't mean the music is not meritorious. It's just way outside of my operating parameters. And that's where Horowitz is right now, also, an opinion based on 2 or 3 dazzling but not particularly engaging CDs of his that I own. Yes, I could revise that opinion easily, which is why I read boards like this one, to challenge and improve the basis on which I form those opinions I have.

I guess what I'm suggesting is to always respect peoples' opinions and never undermine an opinion with a technical evaluation. Hmm, other rules come to mind. Don't pass off an opinion as a technical evaluation. Don't assume that a technical evaluation is supercedes all opinions.
Last edited by slofstra on Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17613
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Lance » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:28 am

Very well stated, Henry!
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by pizza » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:29 am

I have the greatest respect and admiration for Horowitz. I had the pleasure, as a youngster, of attending several of his recitals in Chicago during WW2, and I once sat on the stage behind him, together with a few other fortunate audience members who were able to take advantage of that seating arrangement in Orchestra Hall, where every possible space counted in those days! He was simply electrifying, and his enthusiasm for the music he was playing was obvious. Kapell was the only other pianist at that time whose playing in my opinion even came close to that sort of magic. I surely miss them.
Last edited by pizza on Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

slofstra
Posts: 8900
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:23 pm
Location: Waterloo, ON, Canada
Contact:

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by slofstra » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:32 am

pizza wrote:I have the greatest respect and admiration for Horowitz. I had the pleasure, as a youngster, of attending several of his recitals in Chicago during WW2, and I once sat on the stage behind him, together with a few other fortunate audience members who were able to take advantage of that seating arrangement in Orchestra Hall, where every possible space counted in those days! He was simply electrifying, and his enthusiasm for the music he was playing was obvious. Kapell was the only other pianist in those days whose playing in my opinion even came close to that sort of magic. I surely miss them.
Whose Rachmaninoff do you prefer, Kapell or Horowitz? (Kapell in my book).

pizza
Posts: 5094
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 4:03 am

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by pizza » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:38 am

slofstra wrote:
pizza wrote:I have the greatest respect and admiration for Horowitz. I had the pleasure, as a youngster, of attending several of his recitals in Chicago during WW2, and I once sat on the stage behind him, together with a few other fortunate audience members who were able to take advantage of that seating arrangement in Orchestra Hall, where every possible space counted in those days! He was simply electrifying, and his enthusiasm for the music he was playing was obvious. Kapell was the only other pianist in those days whose playing in my opinion even came close to that sort of magic. I surely miss them.
Whose Rachmaninoff do you prefer, Kapell or Horowitz? (Kapell in my book).
I have no real preference; they each had something unique to say. Rachmaninoff, who rarely had anything positive to say about other pianists, praised Horowitz' playing of his works. Of course, he never had the opportunity to hear Kapell.

Barry
Posts: 10228
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 3:50 pm

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Barry » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:10 pm

I try to be careful in how I phrase my feelings on artists like Horowitz and Toscanini. Neither is a favorite of mine. Yet I understand that there is a reason why both are so legendary. They clearly weren't "bad" at what they did, even if it's not suited to my ideal of how a given piano piece or symphonic work should be performed.

So while I'm putting forth the notion that I'm not nuts about someone like Toscanini, I try to also make it clear that I respect his accomplishments and impact on conducting.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by stenka razin » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:02 pm

slofstra wrote:
pizza wrote:I have the greatest respect and admiration for Horowitz. I had the pleasure, as a youngster, of attending several of his recitals in Chicago during WW2, and I once sat on the stage behind him, together with a few other fortunate audience members who were able to take advantage of that seating arrangement in Orchestra Hall, where every possible space counted in those days! He was simply electrifying, and his enthusiasm for the music he was playing was obvious. Kapell was the only other pianist in those days whose playing in my opinion even came close to that sort of magic. I surely miss them.
Whose Rachmaninoff do you prefer, Kapell or Horowitz? (Kapell in my book).

Both are great exponents of Mr. R, but, may I cast a vote for arguably the greatest of all 20th century pianists, Sergei Rachmaninoff? 8)
Image

SaulChanukah

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by SaulChanukah » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:46 pm

Good Article, Lance.

Yes its true that everyone has their favorites and even within their favorites, they will not enjoy everything. But when it comes to Horowitz, I don't recall anything that I have not enjoyed from his art.

MarkC
Posts: 1630
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:52 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by MarkC » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:07 am

I'm loving this thread.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17613
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:18 am

I'm loving this thread, too, Mark! Thank you for your very nice comments. Tonight, again, I have been re-listening to Horowitz's "Legendary Berlin Concert - May 18, 1986" just released in the USA by Sony Classical 60481 [2 CDs]. I hope you have a chance to acquire a copy of this.

Image
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Jack Kelso
Posts: 3004
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:52 pm
Location: Mannheim, Germany

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:00 am

stenka razin wrote:
slofstra wrote:
pizza wrote:I have the greatest respect and admiration for Horowitz. I had the pleasure, as a youngster, of attending several of his recitals in Chicago during WW2, and I once sat on the stage behind him, together with a few other fortunate audience members who were able to take advantage of that seating arrangement in Orchestra Hall, where every possible space counted in those days! He was simply electrifying, and his enthusiasm for the music he was playing was obvious. Kapell was the only other pianist in those days whose playing in my opinion even came close to that sort of magic. I surely miss them.
Whose Rachmaninoff do you prefer, Kapell or Horowitz? (Kapell in my book).

Both are great exponents of Mr. R, but, may I cast a vote for arguably the greatest of all 20th century pianists, Sergei Rachmaninoff? 8)
My mother saw Rachmaninoff in 1939 playing his 2nd Piano Concerto with Stokowski conducting (in New York). After the performance, the audience asked for the Prelude in C-Sharp Minor as encore. She told me the composer pleaded and pleaded with the audience NOT to ask that of him, as he had learned to "hate" the little piece. And he didn't play it.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

maestrob
Posts: 5549
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: The "validity" of Horowitz or other musicians

Post by maestrob » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:16 am

Excellent post, Lance, and well-put. I've gone through phases with Horowitz, but mostly I've been on the positive side. Toscanini has always been my conducting hero: Furtwangler thus rubs me the wrong way, mostly, except for the unbelieveably great Tristan with Ludwig Suthaus and Flagstad.

Each great artist in the pantheon has great moments and weaker performances: that's just the nature of being human.. As Billy Wilder said to Gene Kelley, "You're as good as the best you've done!"

I prefer to focus on the successes of great artists, all the while knowing their weaknesses and "letting them slide." What I appreciate most in a performing artist is consistent high quality, such as exemplified by Richter, Horowitz, Bartoli, Toscanini, Levine, Heifetz, etc. Yes, I know they've weaknesses (yes, even Toscanini), yet I can't imagine how much poorer our world (and my life!) would have been without these great artists.

Which gives me an idea for a thread........ :wink:

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 36 guests