Readers of this blog will be aware of an ongoing state of war with my son, Bernie, whose adoration of Vladimir Horowitz I do not share. But Bernie is relentless, and in order to get him off my back I occasionally concede that his icon is a more remarkable pianist than his recordings disclose.
Bernie has now contributed a detailed interview on the topic of Horowitz’s concert performances and their superiority to manicured studio jobs and edited concert recordings. I confess that it is worth reading. For one thing, it reiterates a point that bears repeating — edited recordings often disserve both music and the performer. For another, it includes a tremendous live 1966 Horowitz recording of Liszt’s Vallee d’Obermann — which Bernie compares not to a studio recording, but to an edited live Horowitz recording from the same season. The unedited performance (as always with Horowitz’s Liszt) lacks something in gravitas and worldly ennui. But the demonic thrust of his playing here attains an unadulterated wildness that studio doctors and complicit performers oftentimes elect to suppress.