A historic, 50 minute-long, Maysles made film gives a unique glimpse of the pianistic legend as he records Mozart concerto no. 23 (A Major) under the baton of Guilini (personally selected)
In between movements, Volodya schmoozes with the page turner, fawning journalists, plus an assortment of friends, hero-worshippers, whose conversations are permeated by off the cuff, sometimes awkward remarks. In one exchange, Horowitz bounces off a comment made by an attractive woman who likes his tie. Within earshot and well beyond, the celebrated pianist insists that the lady favors the tie over his playing. It’s a motif that endures repetition along with anecdotes that are cataloged in Horowitz’s personal memory archive.
A bit of ego massaging is intrinsic to the documentary, and one senses how the artist craves the adulation he’s rightly earned.
Working the room peopled with admirers, his manager, Peter Gelb, orchestra members, his wife, et al, Horowitz exclaims, “I’m the oldest person here!”
One zealous music critic asks Maestro about his relationship to Mozart. Horowitz responds he’s “number one,” my favorite. And then he sputters off with a recollection of Casals saying, “play Mozart like Chopin, and play Chopin like Mozart,” that tickles the crowd of devotees.
Not to forget, Horowitz’s impromptu renditions of his favorite movements by the Classical master. While playing the opening to Mozart’s Bb Piano sonata, in a recording session break, he insists it’s better than the A Major Piano Concerto.
Throw into the mix, Peter Gelb, personal manager, Guilini, a stately, mild-mannered, modest fellow, and sarcastic, brooding Wanda (Toscanini)and the repertory company is deserving of a special Oscar in a unique category of its own.
Naturally, the playing is compelling— noteworthy for its Classical and Romantic flair that will live on as pianists come and go. In the technical realm, I watched Horowitz tuck in the pinky of his right hand while playing rapid passage work, and I observed how he fleshed out voices (especially the bass) that most would ignore.
At the conclusion of the concerto’s first movement, Horowitz shouts, “only one false note!”
It epitomizes a candid view of the pianist in a rare cinematic form.
In summary, this wonderful video should not be missed!