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  • Writer's pictureMusic for Christ

Impromptu No. 3 - Schubert

I adore this piece. It’s not an extremely technically hard piece. Rather, the beauty and impressive action comes from the interpretation of the pianist. Horowitz emphasizes the gentle melody with a subtle grace. It’s hopeful, yet melancholic. Of course, Horowitz’s performance is a delight to watch, the way he hardly moves his hands. Multiple people have described this performance as the music coming to Horowitz’s hands, waiting for him to play, rather than Horowitz having to wring it out of the piano.

An interesting feature of this performance in the bells that can be heard from outside, beginning around minute mark 2:20. Horowitz is playing on a stage in front of a loud crowd, but the intrusion of the bells, such a usual sound, makes it feel as if we are in a personal setting, a piano at our left ear and the church bells at our right.

Just look at the comments on the video. Listeners write in detailing how this piece removes them from earthly cares, they feel as though they are in a realm of heavenly calmness with great feeling. When I listen to this piece, I am reminded of the prophecy in Isaiah of the messiah being born to a virgin. Adonai tells what the messiah’s name shall be: Immanuel, G-d with us (Isaiah 7:14).

The flowing melody played by Horowitz is a dialogue between harmony and melody, over which the heavenly bells conduct the conversation. At 3:50, the bass comes and tries to draw the melody down, but a return to the original melody brings the balance to rights. Immanuel, the bells with us, is the returning tonic and home of our piece (peace). The event happens again around 5:40, but the home key wins out, concluding in a sweet resolution. Though we may have trials and dissonance in our lives, a return to Immanuel, the tonic, brings about a contented resolution.

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