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Vladimir Horowitz - The Last Romantic

7 customer reviews

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(Mar 31, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This film offers an intimate portrait of one of the most compelling and elusive personalities of the 20th Century - in private performance and conversation. This program includes an actual recital in Horowitz's home as well as some revealing scenes with Horowitz and his wife, Wanda Toscanini. The concert portion of the program, which features performances of works by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabin, is unique because of the access granted by the Horowitzes during the filming: the filmmakers were literally inches from the piano, capturing the pianist in action with remarkable intimacy. Audio playback options are 5.1 dolby digital and non-compressed stereo.

In this celebratory documentary, acclaimed sibling filmmakers Albert and David Maysles (Salesman, Grey Gardens) give us a fascinating chance to see legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz from an intimate perspective. The movie was filmed during a 1985 recording session in the artist's New York studios, a venue that allows the camera marvelous access to examine closely the flurry of Horowitz's fingers across the keyboard and his wonderfully expressive face as it keeps time with the music, registering in turn intensity, rapture, childish delight. All the while Horowitz's wife, Wanda Toscanini, looks on lovingly. Between performances, the two rest on a couch and share reminiscences of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin (who wisely advised the 10-year-old virtuoso to educate himself in all cultural matters, not just music), and Maestro Arturo Toscanini himself. On one wall of the elegantly furnished apartment-style studio hangs a beautiful Japanese screen portraying a soldier and his horse leaping across a chasm, suspended in midair; Horowitz himself seems just as much to float, unbounded by the gravitational tug of age (he was 81 at the time). His playing is as strong as ever, whether deftly maneuvering the glassy trills of Mozart's Sonata in C, K. 330, or powering his way through an energetic reading of Chopin's Scherzo No. 1. All the music is wonderful, of course; no less so is the film's fond portrait of the man who made it. --Bruce Reid

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Vladimir Horowitz, Wanda Toscanini-Horowitz, Franz Mohr, Richard Probst, Jack Pfeiffer
  • Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles
  • Producers: Peter Gelb, Susan Froemke
  • Format: Classical, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Pioneer Ldca Inc.
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2002
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004TJS1
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,476 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Vladimir Horowitz - The Last Romantic" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Hank Drake VINE VOICE on August 4, 2000
Format: DVD
In 1983, Vladimir Horowitz retired from the concert stage following a series of disastrous recitals. Rumors about his health from Alzheimer's disease to cancer swept through the music world, and it was generally felt that he would never play again. As it turned out, Horowitz had been taking anti-depressant medication which impaired his memory and coordination. Once the cause of his problems was revealed, he stopped taking the medication cold-turkey and, after battling the trials of withdrawal, eventually returned to normal. Early in 1985, Horowitz told his manager, Peter Gelb, that he wanted to resume musical activity, but didn't yet feel up to the task of public recitals. The documentary contained on this DVD was Horowitz' way of easing into the rigors of concertizing.
This film shows Horowitz trying out pianos in Steinway's famous basement, discussing his life, and performing in his elegantly appointed New York townhouse. Wanda Toscanini Horowitz is ever present, recalling how she lived under the shadow of famous musicians (her father was Artuto Toscanini)and encouraging her husband in his reaquaintance with the piano.
Horowitz, 81 years young at the time, plays very well here--although his performance is not quite on the same level it would be one year later at his legendary Moscow recital (also available on DVD). The Bach-Busoni Chorale, Mozart Sonata, and Schumann Novelette reveal the playing of a grand master in sovereign command of his resources. It must be admited however, some of the more bravura pieces do not match his best playing from earlier years. At one point, Wanda scolds him for neglecting to practice the Schumann Novelette. Horowitz reluctantly waddles to the piano, tries a few passages, and it's obvious his memory of the piece is sketchy.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jian Zhuang on September 4, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Like DVD "Horowitz in Moscow", this is another wonderful Horowitz DVD. I have the CD by Deutsche Grammophon for all the same music in this DVD, but this DVD has a lot more than just piano music. It showed a lot of personnalities of this, perhaps, the greatest pianist of all time and it is a piece of vanished history. His facial expressions, interviews and comments to the composors between the pieces are so funny and make him so lovable an old gentleman. Close and different camera angles certainly help you view his unique and unduplicatable playing style. I have to admit that some of pieces with physical passages in this DVD may not match Horowitz's earlier recordings especially the Moszkowski's Etude in F Major which is in the CD but only as a background music for this DVD's production recognition. All the recordings are still excellent and very tastful. If I am asked to recommend DVDs for any piano lovers, I will place this DVD on one of the top list without any hesitation.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yair Haklai on August 26, 2000
Format: DVD
This DVD gives us the possibility of approaching the artist and his world as much as possible. We are taken to his home studio with his supporting wife , and get to know Horowitz as a warm person. Horowitz knows very well all the technical aspects of playing the piano. He has done his homework, and while he plays he is concentrated on the projection of what he feels the Composer want us to feel. When Horowitz plays he projects us musical piece as a whole, every note has a meaning in the development and the structure and the movement of the work. His range of expression is very wide, Horowitz as he says, has an angel and a devil inside him. He has an ability of understanding a piece of music and expressing it in his playing that takes us as deep as possible. Horowitz as he says, don't look for inhuman perfection, and that is ok to play in public rehearsal one wrong note. In my opinion Horowitz is interested, as all great artists, in communication, creating something that will last for a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GB Harrop on January 5, 2007
Format: DVD
I loved this DVD. It's a documentary, not a concert. Horowitz retired from performing from 1983-85 after suffering from memory lapses and lack of coordination caused by drugs prescribed for the clinical depression that he grappled with his whole life. I think that makes this disk especially moving. Health recovered at no little mental and physical cost, Horowitz again has all the music and finds a deep joy and satisfaction in playing it! Playing for friends in his home was his typical way of tuning up for public performance. And he went on from this to his triumph in Moscow in 1986 and a final concert tour in Europe in 1987. To respond slightly to another reviewer, Horowitz says nothing about the Mozart and that it "was not bad for an old man" after the Schezro. His comment that "I cannot do better" comes after an exquisite rendition of the Rachmaninoff Prelude. Therefore, my take on that comment is different. I don't think he was disatisfied. Quite the contrary, he knew he was one with the music and he was content. In all, this disk gives a wonderful insight into one of the great artists of the 20th century.
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