My exposure to Mieczyslaw Horszowski has been in chamber music: I owned LPs of him performing the Mozart Piano Quartets with the Budapest String Quartet, a Marlboro recording of the Bach Concerti for Three Pianos and Strings, and I once heard him in concert performing duets with Rudolf Serkin. I knew he taught at the Curtis Institute of Music, but this BBC CD is the first time I've heard him in the solo repertoire.
His program consists of the Bach: French Suite no.6, Beethoven: Piano Sonata no.6, Schumann: Papillons, Op.2, and a Chopin group (with Schumann's Traumerei from the Scenes of Childhood as an encore).
His playing is extraordinary, unshowy, with a luminous, singing tone, beautifully phrased. I particularly liked the Bach and the Schumann (both the Papillons and the Traumerei - the latter magical). His Chopin group consisted of the Nocturne in Eb Major, Op.9 no.2; Impromptu in F# Major, Op.36; Waltz in C# Minor, Op.64 no.2; Scherzo no.1 in B Minor, Op.20; and Etude in F Minor, Op.25 no.2; all very fine.
Horszowski's playing has an disembodied quality. It is though he is a medium to the composer, a channel so to speak. His playing is very musical, tasteful, that doesn't call attention to itself, unostentatious. And this is a man giving a recital, in England, two days before his 98th birthday. There is no hint of age in his playing.
The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and DVDs 2004/2005 Yearbook awards this recital a rosette, calls Horszowski's playing "extraordinary...radiant...magical playing that is to be treasured."