Mendelssohn, Liszt, Mussorgsky, Saint-Sa‘ns, Sousa, Horowitz

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COMPOSERS: Horowitz,Liszt,Mendelssohn,Mussorgsky,Saint-Sa‘ns,Sousa
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Hommage Ë Horowitz
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Valery Kuleshov (piano)
It’s either a very brave or a foolhardy man who openly invites comparison with one of the most legendary virtuosi in history, and in his own music and arrangements to boot. But Kuleshov, whose playing is new to me, is no fool. His accomplishments here are prodigious – not least the fact that he transcribed all but one of these pieces from Horowitz’s own performances, since the wizard himself never actually wrote them down. Horowitz heard Kuleshov play some of them, and enthusiastically encouraged him to perform them wherever he liked. He even invited Kuleshov to study with him, but died before the plan could be realised. Yet how tiny, how almost inconceivably minuscule are the details which separate the very good from the spellbinding. As many a child has protested about life in general, it’s not fair. Here we have a young virtuoso of conspicuous intelligence, great musicality, armed with a technique which sounds like it doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘problem’ – stunning playing, really, in many ways. And yet it just doesn’t quite come off – at least not for me. And most of this music depends on that little extra, unattainable ingredient without which it merely passes the time. Jeremy Siepmann