HOROWITZ AT THE WHITE HOUSE
“Your mind must control, but you must have heart… Give your feeling free.”
Often called "the last Romantic," Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) unabashedly revealed in the grand emotions and bravura fireworks of the 19th- and early 20th-century composers. Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff, with whom he was friends, were the mainstay of his repertoire, and his interpretations of these composers continue to reap praise.
Listeners and viewers of "Horowitz at the White House" are able to judge for themselves, since this recording – one of Horowitz's relatively few authorized appearances on video and one of only four TV broadcasts – captures the unique aura of this pianist in a recital that encompasses the full palette of Horowitz's technical and expressive resources.
Recorded at the White House on 26 February 1978, the recital is introduced by then President Jimmy Carter, who reminds the select audience that Horowitz is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first U.S. performance with this recital. The pianist settled in the U.S. in 1940 and became a U.S. citizen in 1944. Calling him "a true national treasure," Carter then makes way for the artist.
After a stirring rendition of the American national anthem in an arrangement by John Stafford Smith, Horowitz launches into the recital's pièce de résistance, the Chopin B-flat minor Sonata op. 35 with the celebrated "Marche funèbre." The mighty work is followed by two waltzes and a polonaise by Chopin before a hush seems to fall upon the already silent audience as Horowitz plays Robert Schumann's melancholic "Träumerei." Rachmaninoff's lively "Polka de W.R." provides a rousing contrast that builds up to a phenomenal explosion of virtuosity in Horowitz's own "Variations on a Theme from Georges Bizet's Carmen" – the spectacular conclusion of a truly historical concert.