HEN READERS visit Views from the Choir Loft, it is of course within the realm of possibility that what they encounter could be false—just like any other blog on the internet. We assure our readers we’re truthful, but human beings are fallible, and some are dishonest. But one thing is never dishonest: music. What you hear is what you get.
Here’s a recording I’ve thoroughly enjoyed for two decades:
Vladimir Horowitz made this recording just a few days before he died (at the age of 86). I grew up reading biographies of Rachmaninoff, Hofmann, Friedman, Gieseking, and all the rest, so I’ve always been aware that great pianists can play anything at sight, no matter how difficult. Horowitz was especially known for this ability. He never played this piece in public, but undoubtedly mastered it in minutes—and nobody has ever made a more powerful recording. 1
My youth was filled with playing the piano, exploring nature with my brothers, and spending time at church. My brother and I immersed ourselves completely in Fauré, Franck, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, MacDowell, Schubert, Mozart, Medtner, Rachmaninov, Haydn, Palestrina, Bach, and so many others. Later on, my brother entered the seminary while I got married, and I miss our friendship so much. (We both lead busy lives, and great distances separate us.) Life becomes more complicated when one becomes an adult. I often wonder if God will allow me—someday—to once more experience that exhilarating and intoxicating delight of music. I used to rush home from my job (as a soccer referee) to listen to rare recordings which I obtained through trading with people in Italy, Belgium, China, Canada, and other places. In those days, it was all cassette tapes. I remember spending Autumn days working in Dr. Richard Angeletti’s studio at the University of Kansas. Those happy days seem so far away. 2
If you ever wondered (or cared) “who I am,” just listen to that recording. By so doing, you’ll understand a great deal about me.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 This is just the middle section. For the full recording, search YouTube for “Chopin Etude op. 25 no. 5 Horowitz” and it will come right up.
2 After hearing me play virtuoso pieces in a competition, Dr. Angeletti had accepted me—even though he seldom accepted high school students. He was a supremely musical man, and we spent hours on pedaling and phrasing. Dr. Angeletti, by the way, was instrumental (pardon the pun) in beginning the “artist in residence” program at KU, bringing in artists like Leon Fleisher and Gary Graffman.