Danse macabre in G minor, Op. 40by Camille Saint-Saëns Performer:
Valery Kuleshov (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1874; France Notes: Arranged: Vladimir Horowitz
Stars and Stripes Foreverby John Philip Sousa Performer:
Valery Kuleshov (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1897; USA Notes: Arranged: Vladimir Horowitz
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Virtuoso Transcriptions for PianoDecember 22, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"Vladimir Horowitz was a musician caught between two eras. At the beginning of his career, arrangements by Liszt and Busoni were still in vogue, and it was expected that touring virtuosi would treat the audience to some of his own. By the time of Horowitz' retirement in 1953, arrangements were beginning to become unfashionable, and with his return to public performance in 1965, Horowitz played fewer of his own arrangements.
The art of transcribing works for piano seems to be enjoying something of a comeback these days. A number of pianists have taken to copying Horowitz' transcriptions from recordings or piano rolls (it's also no secret that printed versions of Horowitz' arrangements and original compositions have been circulating over the Internet for years). Arcadi Volodos has received a lot of publicity for this, but Valery Kuleshov is the only pianist before the public who spent time going over them with Horowitz himself. His copies of Horowitz' arrangements are accurate, and his performances of these works are mostly satisfactory. There is one piece here which doesn't quite "work," and that is Kuleshov's version of Liszt's Vallée d'Obermann. When performing this epic piece in 1966, Horowitz made some minor refinements which tightened the compositional structure and enhanced the piece harmonically - all in the authentic Liszt tradition. Kuleshov has made some further changes here. But where Horowitz' alterations clarify Liszt's intent, Kuleshov's re-workings merely come across as note-spinning.
Many of Horowitz' most popular transcriptions are here, including his amplifications of Liszt's rarely played Hungarian Rhapsody No. 19, Horowitz' arrangement of the Mendelssohn/Liszt Wedding March, and, of course, the ever popular Stars and Stripes Forever. Also here is Kuleshov's version the Carmen Variations, which is an amalgamation of Horowitz' many versions of this work. Even more interesting are the recordings of Horowitz' few original compositions, the manuscripts of which are in the Horowitz Collection at Yale University. Kuleshov's is the only recording so far of Horowitz' charming Etude in E-flat, which the pianist composed as a student and apparently never performed after graduating.
Kuleshov is a superb pianist blessed with a solid technique and healthy temperament. What he lacks is the demon possessed quality which marked some of Horowitz' most astonishing performances. Kuleshov, of course, has the added benefit of vastly improved recording technology, which results in finer sound and - thanks to editing - more note perfect performances than Horowitz could achieve in the days of 78-RPM, non-edited recordings. This also conveniently gathers many of Horowitz' arrangements on one disc, whereas the Maestro's own performances are scattered over several CDs from different recording companies.
Horowitz composed many more transcriptions that the hour's worth here. A follow-up disc is warranted.