“In Mieczyslaw Horszowski’s playing, what initially strikes the listener is the loveliness of his sound – a sound that is no longer heard today … In his playing, everything seems supple and effortless, as if playing a piano were as easy as uttering speech.”Murray Perahia
The Polish pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski was three weeks away from his 99th birthday when he gave this recital, recorded live at Wigmore Hall in June 1991. It was the last recital he ever gave in the UK, followed only by a concert in Lucerne and another in his home town of Philhadelphia, some four months later. This marked the end of a career which had begun with his official Viennese debut in 1902, with a programme that included Schumann’s Arabesque, which features in this programme, 90 years later.
The recording also features Mozart’s Sonata in B flat K. 570, Beethoven’s Sonata in D minor Op. 31 No. 2 ‘The Tempest’, and works by Chopin . As a boy, Horszowski was taught by his mother, an amateur pianist who had studied with Karol Mikuli, himself a pupil of Chopin – and it was in Chopin that Horszowski was greatly in his element. As András Schiff remarked: “It’s as though he had written the music himself. It’s unbelievably unpredictable, and yet it’s completely natural, and comes from within the composition.”
The recital ends with Schumann’s ‘Traumerei’, one of the composer’s most famous melodies, and something of a signature work for Horszowski in his last years.
"...this CD is extraordinary, and only partly because it was recorded when this great pianist was 99 years old. Mieczyslaw Horszowski was first taught by his mother, who had studied with a pupil of Chopin, and this recording reflects the serene luminosity of his tone as well as his utterly individual way with over-played classics"
"The Wigmore Hall recital offers an ideal showcase for Horszowski’s rich sonority"
"One hears an enchantingly lyrical approach, with each phrase flowing perfectly into the next. Equally important is the pianist’s sensitivity to harmony and texture. Rarely has such colour and nuance been brought to this music in so satisfying a manner ... The recording engineers are to be commended for the excellent sound quality of this CD. Horzsowski’s sound was an essential part of what he communicated and this disc does as good a job as I have heard of capturing that elusive quality"