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Vladimir Horowitz was a towering figure in classical piano. The descriptions suggest that he ran at full tilt, but never lost control. The clip above -- Carmen Fantasie -- is amazing for the obvious virtuosity. Many experts say that his interpretation of the music was world class as well, though his approach was not universally lauded.
This is from The New York Times' obituary, which ran on November 6, 1989:
Reached in Tokyo today, another prominent American pianist, Emanuel Ax, said: "I knew people who worshiped Horowitz, as I did, and I knew people who hated him. But no one was indifferent. He brought the idea of excitement in piano playing to a higher pitch than anyone I've ever heard. For me the fascinating thing was a sense of complete control, and on the other hand, the feeling that everything was just on the verge of going haywire. It never did go over that line, but there was the sense of an unbelievable energy being harnessed, and the felling that if he ever let it go, it would burn up the hall." (Continue Reading...)
The Bach Contatas Website provides more:
Vladimir Samoylovych Horowitz [Ukrainian: Володимир Самійлович Горовиць, Russian: Владимир Самойлович Горовиц] was a Ukrainian-born, American classical pianist. In his prime, he was considered one of the most brilliant pianists of his time. His use of tone color, technique and the excitement of his playing are thought by many to be unrivaled, and his performances of works as diverse as those of Domenico Scarlatti and Alexander Scriabin were equally legendary. Though sometimes criticized for being overly mannered, he has a huge and passionate following and is widely considered one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century. (Continue Reading...)