Here’s something truly incredible and timeless! (If it doesn’t appear immediately…hit reload a few times. This is the full 16 minute file).
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Per Hank Drake:
This performance, taped in 1978, is the last time Vladimir Horowitz performed the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto in his lifetime. By this time he had known the work for nearly sixty years.
This performance was taped a few days before Horowitz’ 75th birthday, but I would defy anyone to guess his age hearing only the audio portion. Naturally, he can’t mount all the technical hurdles quite as superhumanly as could when he was 40. But, I have never witnessed a greater performance, either in concert or on video.
Horowitz’ intimate knowledge of this wonderful concerto is evident throughout every bar. There is something magical about the phrasing, the tone, Horowitz’ mastery of “the big line,” an art which transcends merely putting the right finger in the right place at the right time. Horowitz was a notoriously self-critical artist, and he was courageous enough to change his interpretation over the years: only his later performances of the Rachmaninoff Third are played without the disfiguring cuts the composer sanctioned (Horowitz does make a tiny cut in the first movement Cadenza).
Zubin Mehta, a sympathetic accompanist, is to be credited with supporting his soloist (who was known to never play the same piece twice in quite the same way) and securing fine playing from the New York Philharmonic.
The videography is more than adequate and the mono sound well balanced in this difficult to record concerto. I know of no greater Rachmaninoff Third on video.
BTW, Hank Drake is speaking of the performance as recorded by Deutsche Grammophon…not necessarily as has been reproduced for Google Video.;-)