Bach, Beethoven, Chopin & Schumann

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Beethoven,Chopin & Schumann
LABELS: BBC Legends
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Mieczyslaw Horszowski
WORKS: Works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin & Schumann
PERFORMER: Mieczyslaw Horszowski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4122-2 ADD
Mieczyslaw Horszowski – child prodigy, pupil of Leschetizky, recital partner of Casals, profoundly sensitive soloist as well as chamber-pianist, teacher of Perahia and Goode – was a Methuselah figure who went on delighting audiences into his late nineties and who died (in 1992) in his 101st year. His greatness will be affirmed by anyone who attended his concerts in the Eighties and early Nineties, when a miraculous Indian-summer ‘second career’ was in full swing – and by anyone who acquires this sublime BBC Legends issue.

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It’s taken from a BBC Radio 3 recording of a recital he gave at the Wigmore Hall in 1990. In fact, it’s the second such concert to have appeared on CD: the first – from Aldeburgh in 1983 – was the cover CD on the August 1993 edition of BBCMusic Magazine, and is among my most treasured piano discs. In 1990, at the age of 98, Horszowski’s glory was entirely undimmed. His impress of simplicity, vigour, clarity of musical comprehension and execution, and what can only be called spiritual radiance upon every note almost defies description.

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The pianist’s tender warmth of tone, his singing style, fill every note. Every phrase has its inimitable inflection, but no hint of mannerism. Bach (Suite No. 6), Beethoven (Sonata, Op. 10/2) and Chopin of this order are heard once in a lifetime. On this occasion his Papillons may perhaps have soared less, but the whole adds up to a 78-minute listening experience of purest joy. Max Loppert