Sony/BMG’s second Vladimir Horowitz Original Jacket edition draws on the piano legend’s RCA Victor recordings, dating from the late 1920s up through his 1982 London concerts, and covers a wide repertoire range in the process. His studio Tchaikovsky First and Brahms Second concertos under Toscanini’s stringent direction have long provoked controversy and awe, while the pianist’s pioneering versions of the Prokofiev Seventh and Barber sonatas deserve their iconic reputation.
You can compare the younger Horowitz’s relatively direct Liszt Valse Oubliée No. 1 and Chopin C-sharp minor Mazurka Op. 30 No. 4 to their more subjective mid-century remakes. If his early 1980s Chopin is as mannered and pulled about as the 1978Read more Rachmaninov Third Concerto Golden Jubilee release (coupled here with the the same composer’s Second sonata), Horowitz still revealed his genius for making loose-knit, larger-scaled works such as Schumann’s Concerto Without Orchestra and the Scriabin Fifth sonata sound cohesive and inevitable.
His 1950s Chopin hits and misses. I’ve never warmed to the static, fussed-over B-flat minor sonata (Horowitz takes the first-movement repeat he wisely omitted in his superior stereo Columbia Masterworks remake), nor to the studio B minor Scherzo’s picky details and lack of flow, yet the Barcarolle is a classic, as are the technically and musically inspired Scriabin and Clementi recitals from the same period.
When I first pondered hearing Horowitz live, a non-fan friend advised me “just go for the encores.” I understood what he meant, for Horowitz lavished these gems with great care and craft. Today’s young hotshots may be able to play the notes of Horowitz’s once inscrutable Carmen Fantasy, Stars and Stripes Forever, and Mendelssohn Wedding March, or copy his effective textual emendations in Liszt’s Sixth and Fifteenth Hungarian Rhapsodies and Moszkowski studies–yet they don’t match the master’s rhythmic drive, sophisticated articulation, and flawless timing.
So far as production values go, this release falls far short of the high standards of previous issues in the Original Jacket Collection series. Astute Horowitz collectors will notice that none of the 10 vintage Horowitz LP cover facsimiles presented here corresponds to its original vinyl contents. In fact, each disc clones a specific release in RCA’s comprehensive yet haphazardly programmed Horowitz Gold Seal series, right down to the actual transfers. The two Chopin CDs prove particularly confusing in this regard.
Furthermore, the booklet’s discographical information is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate. For example, many of the “unavailable” venue and producer credits listed are readily “available” Horowitz discographies, chapter and verse. Such editorial slackness underlines the need for a truly complete, systematic, and thoroughly remastered Horowitz RCA survey that matches the integrity of the label’s complete Kapell and Rubinstein editions.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, Op. 36by Sergei Rachmaninov Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1913/1931; Russia Notes: Composition written: Russia (1913). Composition revised: Russia (1931).
Vladimir Horowitz un pianiste de légendeFebruary 20, 2015By François ANTONIAZZI (LAUSANNE, Switzerland)See All My Reviews"Aux côtés d'Arthur Rubinstein et de Sergueï Rachmaninov, Vladimir Horowitz a été l'un des pianistes les plus en vue et les plus fêtés de sa génération. Sa virtuosité sans faille, alliée à une profonde musicalité, faisaient merveille et enthousiasmaient le public. Il était l'interprète idéal aussi bien de ses compatriotes russes Tchaïkovsky et Rachmaninov que des grands romantiques Chopin, Liszt et Schumann. Cette impressionnante collection met en valeur tous les aspects de son prodigieux talent."Report Abuse
a mixed bagDecember 30, 2014By William S. (Renton, WA)See All My Reviews"This collection reveals what was right and wrong about Horowitz's playing. On big works, or splashy showpieces, he's at his best, bringing down the house, honestly earning the applause he receives. But with difficult or unfamiliar works, his interpretations are very much on the surface -- he's just playing the notes, which he sometimes dashes through in a display of technical brilliance. His periodic disappearances from the concert stage were supposedly influenced (in part) by his belief that he wasn't a particularly good musician. He doesn't seem to have improved over the years. Highlights of this album include his Rachmaninov 3rd (which I still have a cassette tape of, recorded off the air), and the finest Kinderszenen I've ever heard, a marvel of simplicity and ingenuousness. (In his later years he turned the work into an act of musical child molestation.) Given the low price, the good performances justify the purchase. But I wish his classic "Pictures" had been included. I bought this set because I have little Horowitz in my collection. I don't think I'll be adding much more."Report Abuse
Horowitz Deserves BetterDecember 16, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"Several years ago, Sony Classical began reissuing some acclaimed older recordings as the Original Jacket Collection. The concept was simple: each box contained ten CDs which exactly duplicated the content and cover art (obverse and reverse) of the original LP issues. The attraction for collectors was obvious. But some complained about the short playing time of the CDs, so Sony began adding bonus tracks to take advantage of the CDs playing time. The only thing that this issue has in common with the Original Jacket concept is that facsimiles of some original LP covers are used. In fact, the programming on these CDs does not duplicate or even approximate what Horowitz authorized back in the day. Rather, the contents are mostly the same as RCA's Gold Seal reissue of the 1990s, which was generally panned by critics and collectors. The single composer per disk programming is a mish-mash of Horowitz's studio and live recordings from the 1940s to the 1980s, haphazardly thrown together as if they were of equal merit. In addition, this set uses the same remastering as was used for the Gold Seal reissue, which was often done from second or third generation sources because RCA's vaults were in disarray at the time (they have since been organized). The only exception to this is Schumann's Concerto without Orchestra (Sonata No. 3 in F Minor), for which RCA accidentally released the wrong takes on the 1989 CD issue. For this set, the correct, Horowitz authorized takes have been used - - all the better because it's quite a performance and far superior to the unsteady one issued on "Horowitz ReDiscovered." Many of these performances are justly legendary, from the Scriabin 3rd and 5th Sonatas, to Horowitz's own Variations on the Gypsy Dance from Bizet's Carmen. While I agree with Neville Cardus's remark that hearing Horowitz play with orchestra is like "trying to get the best of a fine wine while eating roast beef", the pianist's recordings with Toscanini show the pianist and conductor in excellent form. Has there ever been a more honestly played Brahms 2nd or a more incendiary Tchaikovsky 1st? Horowitz's Rachmaninoff 3rd with Ormandy may be imperfect technically (the pianist was 74 years old during his Golden Jubilee season), but the performance is ripe with memory and a sense of occasion - a true valedictory. Still, Sony/BMG's cavalier treatment of the Horowitz legacy is a disappointment. What Horowitz deserves from Sony/BMG is no less that that which has been afforded to Arthur Rubinstein and William Kapell: A comprehensive reissue of all of his recordings, newly remastered from the best sources, programmed in a way that Horowitz would have approved. That he has not received it as of yet is a slap at his memory, and a discredit to Sony/BMG."Report Abuse