Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Release

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Donald Isler
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Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Release

Post by Donald Isler » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:00 am

This evening's meeting of ARSC (The Association For Recorded Sound Collections) at City College in New York was devoted to a discussion by Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels of the new 41 CD SONY release of Horowitz at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Samuels was the producer of this enormous project. Mr Patrych is a recording engineer and producer, and has had several radio programs on classical music. In between listening to examples of the new set, in recordings made between 1945 and 1975, there were some fascinating insights, and exchanges. The person responsible for playing the examples was another man well-known for restoring old recordings, Seth Winner, who also occasionally added his comments.

The many complications with which Mr. Samuels had to cope, in this huge project, included the fact that recordings were made under many different conditions over that long timespan, and that, because the people who recorded them did not think in an archival manner, many tapes were not preserved in a logical order, and some works Horowitz is known to have played were not recorded at all. For example, there seems to be no tape of one his 1945 recitals, a concert at which he played the Prokofiev Eighth Sonata, a work he did not record on any other occasion.

There was much discussion of Horowitz, the pianist at different stages of his life, especially before and after the 12 year period (1953-65) during which he played no concerts (though he continued to make recordings). Pianist Raymond Lewenthal referred to the pre-1953 Horowitz as the most perfect pianistic mechanism he knew of. It was mentioned that the post 1965 recitals were less frequent (with, again some years off) and programs were shorter. But if his pianistic ability was not everything it was before, one can understand that he was older, and didn't need to push himself so much anymore. It was also mentioned that after 1953 he never again played at Carnegie Hall music of Brahms, Prokofiev or Tchaikovsky, though he added some new repertoire.

It was amusing to hear these experts, who know the dates and repertoire of Horowitz's New York recitals as well as preachers know the Bible, bat about, and occasionally disagree on some of this data. And, of course, there were the Horowitz stories, which pianists can never get enough of. One of the recordings we heard was the last movement, the Fugue, of the Barber Sonata, which was written for Horowitz. Apparently Barber was having a hard time getting it finished, according to one of the speakers, until Mrs. Horowitz bawled him out for taking so long, which apparently hastened the process.

Three works of Chopin were heard, the Third Ballade, the F Minor Nocturne and the B Minor Mazurka. The first two were not particularly memorable, for this listener, but the Mazurka, made at the 1966 performance which Mr. Samuels called his favorite post-1965 recital, was wondrous, with a remarkable range of dynamics, plus great spirit and spontaneity.

The Liszt works played were the 6th and 15th Hungarian Rhapsodies, both terrific, and we heard the famous concert in which a string broke during a particularly beautiful performance of the slow movement of the Rachmaninoff Second Sonata.

We also heard a performance of the last movement of the Prokofiev Seventh Sonata which was faster than he usually played it, and astonishingly brilliant.

The final work played is especially meaningful to Mr. Patrych because it was the first thing Mr. Patrych heard Horowitz play live, at this very concert from 1975, the Blumenstück of Schumann. Some would say that, with his continuous rubato at every twist and turn, this proves that Horowitz couldn't play simply. On the other hand, it's gorgeous and enormously expressive in every other respect.

The attentive audience, which was not easily persuaded to leave the premises at the end (collectors always seem to have another recording, or project to discuss) had a most enjoyable evening.

Donald Isler
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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by John F » Fri Oct 18, 2013 5:47 am

Thanks for the report. I used to go to ARSC meetings but have dropped out, and didn't know this year's is in New York. Seth Winner works at the Performing Arts Library, he and I have lunch occasionally, so I'll ask him about it. Chances are he has stories beyond what was said at the meeting, which of course was focused on others than him.
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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by Donald Isler » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:50 am

The New York chapter of ARSC has monthly meetings at City College. Joe Patrych says he hopes to plan a meeting to discuss small record labels in the in the spring, in which case I'll be invited to be on the panel to talk about mine. I ended up parking down the street from City College in front of the building which used to be my high school, the old High School of Music and Art, so felt very at home in the neighborhood!
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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by slofstra » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:02 pm

So that brings up the question of how well the Horowitz/ Carnegie box set has been annotated. For example, will I be able to easily find the performance in which the string broke? I didn't know that could happen to a piano.
Very interesting post, Donald.

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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by John F » Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:48 pm

It happens more often than you might think, but usually not in Mozart or Scarlatti. :)
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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by IN278S » Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:20 pm

slofstra wrote:So that brings up the question of how well the Horowitz/ Carnegie box set has been annotated. For example, will I be able to easily find the performance in which the string broke?
Yes, on CD 28. The box includes a book with details.

I am curious to know if Samuels mentioned why they could not release an unedited version of the 1978 Rachmaninoff Third Concerto, instead of the usual version which incorporates post-concert patches. This is said to be the only recording in the box where they've used a composite (although that must not apply to the video version of the television concert.) Anyway, my copy just arrived yesterday, and I'm very impressed so far.

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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by Klipspringer » Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:22 pm

John F wrote:It happens more often than you might think, but usually not in Mozart or Scarlatti. :)
Indeed. It apparently happened to Leon Fleisher while performing the final piece for the Queen Elisabeth Competition.

It also happened to my friend a few years back. He was just practicing and a bass string snapped on his Samick.

Luckily I have a digital piano :D

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Re: Joseph Patrych and Jon Samuels Discuss New Horowitz Rele

Post by CharmNewton » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:25 pm

Donald Isler wrote:For example, there seems to be no tape of one his 1945 recitals, a concert at which he played the Prokofiev Eighth Sonata, a work he did not record on any other occasion.
In 1945, a recital would have been recorded on some form of disc rather than tape, as the latter medium hadn't made its way to the U.S. yet. If transcription discs were transferred later to tape, it's possible that the original discs might surface. It doesn't sound like there is a catalog of what was and wasn't recorded.

Horowitz may have been like Rachmaninoff, who had an assistant destroy the masters of any recordings he rejected. He didn't want them around for posterity.

John

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