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The Last Recording

The more I listen the more convinced I am that “Horowitz: The Last Recording” is perhaps one of the most monumental artistic achievements of the last century. Horowitz had just celebrated his 86th birthday when he began recording in the fall of 1989. Almost all of his previous releases are unparalleled; however, there’s something hauntingly enchanting and beautiful about his final performances. Gone are the days of fire-breathing virtuosity; what the listener is left with is one last touching, delicate, serene, and reflective essay of a brilliant man that gave himself completely through his music.

It is in the music of his later years that we realize just how much joy and pain can be buried in a small handful of notes. The often stuffy and aristocratic-sounding Haydn gracefully flows with the excitement and wonder of a child. The artist’s aging hands do not allow the unyielding string of notes in Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu drag – the masterfully shaped bel canto melody sings as the delicately nuanced accompaniment demonstrates the very coexistence of fidelity and freedom. The Nocturne in B Major is beautifully reflective and played with stunning repose. Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s Liebestood demonstrates how Horowitz can truly make the piano sound with the power of an orchestra while making the melody sing, and even cry with loving lament. As the piece beautifully and peacefully concludes, so does Horowitz’s career and life. “The Last Recording” is indeed an eloquent summation of a life which we as listeners will always be grateful for.

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