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Horowitz in Hamburg - The Last Concert
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Rondo in D major K485 [6:35]
Piano Sonata in B flat major K333 (315c) (c.1783) [24:32]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) - Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Soirées de Vienne; Valse Caprice No.6 [7:36]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Kinderszenen Op.15 (1838) [17:26]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Mazurka in B minor Op.33 No.4 [4:45]
Polonaise No.6 in A flat major Op.53 [7:30]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Moment musical in F minor D780 No.3 (1823-28) [2:15]
Etincelles Op.36 No.6 [2:32]
Vladimir Horowitz (piano)
rec. live, Musikhalle/Laeiszhalle, Hamburg, 21 June 1987
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 477 7558 [73:37]
Experience Classicsonline

For all that this was Horowitz’s last concert it never feels like a valediction. It feels instead inimitable, as well it might as he had another two years left to live and during that time he did record. But this is the first ever release of that last concert performance, given in Hamburg in June 1987.
It opens with a rather mannered Mozart Rondo in D major with Horowitz fussing and holding back in rather too arch a way – the articulation is exaggerated as well. But the B flat major sonata emerges as a complete contrast – Mozart playing of probing intelligence within its broadly romantic compass, shorn of ornaments though it is. Maybe it’s true that not all the trills are turned as effortlessly as they might be but that’s of little account when set against the grace and lyrically imbued spirit of the music, its generosity of spirit and warmth of heart. He goes easy on the pedal and after the rich slow movement enjoys – very audibly – the grazioso finale.
Horowitz rises powerfully to the challenge of the Schubert-Liszt Soirées de Vienne; (Valse Caprice No.6), a favourite of his and heard with his emendations. Refined, dapper, dashing and virtuosic and laced with wit – what a living reproof to some who play this po-faced – he is full of communicative spirit. Another perennial favourite, sometimes with debatable results, was Kinderszenen. Here he points and paints with capricious wit (Haschemann), refrains from making outsize gestures (Wichtige Begebenheit), and avoids earlier transgressive tendencies in Träumerei, picking up its mood thoughtfully in Am Kamin – deftly done but downplaying, it must be said, contrast. It’s an appreciable success all round, though not as moving as old Carl Friedberg. The Chopin Mazurka in B minor is a total delight. The Polonaise in A flat major meanwhile is littered with mistakes. Moszkowski dazzles, Schubert purrs. The same composer’s Impromptu in G flat was played but not recorded or broadcast for technical reasons. 
Genuinely historic events captured on disc are really rather rare – but not this one, which gives life to a memorable last concert, superbly recorded.
Jonathan Woolf


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