Pianist Sandro Russo's masterfully executed February, 2010 performance on the Horowitz piano, the Steinway Concert CD-75, available on DVD and obtainable through his website this summer, features a wide span of - at its very core – ‘romantic’ repertoire, from the early 19th to the mid-20th century. The selection varies between more architectural, classically structured work, and the highly expressive and blazingly virtuosic.
Russo calls the CD-75 “a magic piano that can absorb every personal emotion the performer puts into the instrument, to which I found a connection so deeply, it made me feel secure to create my own sound world.”
The “romantic thread of sound and element of playing” was the most inspiring part for Russo. He says: “I have always been attracted to pieces that give you a world of contrast and strong dynamic mood changes. I am fascinated by the element of good and evil - as in opposing, dueling forces - and how these converge within a piece, coming to life at full range within the romantic repertoire.”
Parts of Russo’s very well balanced program, partly also available on YouTube, really ‘belongs’ to Horowitz, such as the iconic evocations of Horowitz’s historic performances. Examples of these include the beloved D sharp minor Scriabin Etude, his ravishing encore piece at his famous Moscow ‘comeback’ recital — a must in any representation of the master and his Steinway piano.
“The Scriabin is, of course, one of his most unique interpretations, showing his extreme versatility. Never sounding the same, with no definitive version, my interpretations certainly bear less of an improvisational genius and unpredictability, but perhaps more of an organic structure. I specifically also introduce classically inspired pieces, like the Mendelssohn, giving a more differentiated picture of how each composer should sound different according to the unique score, and regardless on which instrument it is being played. It is up to the pianist to find the unique balance between his investigations of each individual composer’s requests and the pianist’s interpretation thereof,” says Russo about his program choices.
Franz Mohr, an expert head technician at the Steinway Concert and Artist Department, who accompanied legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz on many of his concert tours between 1962 until the master’s death in 1987, talks about the specific Steinway sound in his 1992 volume, My Life with the Great Pianists: