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Mieczyslaw Horszowski

Prelude [6:52]
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor Op.58 (1844) [28:05]
Mazurka in B flat minor Op.24 No.4 [3:57]
Mazurka in C major Op.56 No.2 [2:00]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) – Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Organ Prelude and Fugue BWV 543 [11:24]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonata in F major K332 [17:32]
Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
A Mare Encheu [2:17]
Passa, Passa Gaviao [1:48]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Song without Words in C major Op.67 No.4 Spinning Song (Bee’s Wedding) [2:20]
Mieczyslaw Horszowski (piano)
rec. Aldeburgh, 9 June 1984 (Casals Prelude, Chopin Piano Sonata No.3) and 21 June 1987 (remainder)
BBC LEGENDS BBCL4230-2 [76:58]
Experience Classicsonline

Horszowski was taped here in two concerts, some of which pieces have been conjoined to form a generous seventy-seven minute recital. I remain in favour of a straight issue of a single recital, especially by so important a musician as this, but one can concede the rationale that leads the BBC to be selective and to re-align programmes to accommodate the fruits of a single CD.
Horszowki was in his mid-nineties when he gave these performances and for the most part of course you would simply not know it. He begins by playing his old colleague Casals’s Prelude – a warm conflation of Bach and Rachmaninoff with a dash of Brahms – with richly poetic tone, nobly voiced. Mozart’s F major sonata is a little miracle of natural phrasing. The weight here is perfect, the balance between hands and of the chording equally august. The music’s paragraphs unroll as if unmediated by a single gust of injudicious air, by any semblance of a faulty gesture. Its slow movement is measured but neither coy nor rococo whilst its finale is a vivacious and often intoxicating canter.
The Chopin sonata is not really on this exalted rung. For one thing it’s the only piece audibly to challenge - and in places to defeat - the indefatigable Horszowski. Its opening movement is taken at a rather deliberate tempo albeit one with tremendous reserves of lyricism and feeling. It’s the Scherzo where we hear him come unstuck. By the slow movement however he is back on gravely lyric form – phrasing and colouristic matters always thoughtful and sensitive. The finale strives toward the heroic and often succeeds albeit there are plenty of slips and approximations.
The hyphenated Bach-Liszt Organ Prelude and Fugue has a very few minor slips that will only concern the pedant. For the rest of us we can but marvel at the astonishing and genuine cumulative power that he generates throughout its eleven minutes. The little Villa Lobos pieces are fine examples of the pianist’s flair for poetic compression – indeed the composer’s too. Of the two Chopin Mazurkas the C major is heard in an especially lively performance.
This then is a delightful, eventful and frequently captivating recital, constructed artfully from the two concerts given three years apart. Sound quality is fine and Bryce Morrison’s booklet notes are perceptive in their analyses. A connoisseur’s choice of a disc. 
Jonathan Woolf


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