Monday, November 5, 1990

Horszowski at Harvard

A memorable night tonight, as I went to Sanders Theatre to hear Mieczyslaw Horszowski play.

While standing in the lobby before the concert I saw an old couple pass: it was Horszowski and his wife. Apparently, the others there didn’t know who they were, as Horszowski’s path to the back stage area was blocked. I cleared a path for them and they were able to make their way back.

I then entered the hall, and shortly after the lights dimmed. I heard a rattling sound, angry talk, and feet stomping from a curtained area at the back of the stage. (I later learned it was Horszowski angrily refusing a walker which had been offered to him.) When Horszowski came out, a few people rose to greet him, but he cut short the ovation with an impatient gesture.

None of the playing was perfect, but it was so beautiful and colorful that questions of technique ceased to be germane. The Mozart Fantasy in D minor sounded improvised. The Bach E minor English Suite was highly personal: emotional moments came very quickly, within a single phrase.

Horszowski diverted from the printed program in the second half (all Chopin). He played a Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9, No. 2 instead of the F-sharp, Op. 15, No. 2; and the B minor Mazurka instead of the B-flat major. The Bolero, hardly a simple piece, really brought the house down. There were a number of fluffs and the end, but I didn’t care. It was authentic, pure, real.

Two encores, Chopin’s Nocture in F-sharp and an Etude from Op. 25. Ironically, Horowitz - a decade younger than Horszowski - died one year ago today.

Saturday, November 3, 1990

Perahia in Boston

Murray Perahia’s recital at Symphony Hall was stunning. The Haydn Sonata in A-flat (HOB. XVI:43) was expressive but well within the Classical style. Then came the most original Brahms F minor sonata that I’ve ever heard. Dramatic, declamatory, bordering on the uncontrolled. Perahia let a few passages run away with him in the finale. After the intermission, there was a Chopin group with a rather mannered Mazurka, Op. 24, No. 2 and rushed Introduction and Rondo in E-flat, Op. 16. He ended with the Mephisto Waltz (first version) in which he threw caution to the wind and brought the house down. There was one encore: a rather disappointing Schubert Impromptu in E-flat. I think he was too exhausted to play more.