Finally--a comprehensive and consistently organized collection that encompasses all of Vladimir Horowitz's RCA, Columbia Masterworks, and Sony Classical recordings, many of which I've covered in various states of reissue for Classicstoday.com. In terms of cover art and programming, most of this 70-disc set's individual volumes exactly replicate their original LP counterparts (or CDs in a few instances). As a result, playing times per disc tend to be short (the 1950 Brahms D minor Violin Sonata with Nathan Milstein originally stood alone on a 10-inch LP, and it's presented alone here as well), and many items turn up more than once. For example, you'll find the 1945 Chopin Andante Spianato e Grande Polonaise Op. 22 on three different discs.Read more Still, the integrity of Horowitz's LP program concepts remains intact.
In addition, one CD contains all of the RCA recordings that never made it to any Horowitz LP, along with the live Carnegie Hall 1975 Chopin Op. 17 No. 4 Mazurka issued only in Japan, plus an extended version of the Carmen Fantasy recorded in 1957 and issued for the first time as part of an RCA Red Seal Century CD compilation. Another two discs similarly gather all of the Columbia material first released on "Horowitz in Concert 1967-68", "Discovered Treasures", and in 1993's blue boxed set "The Complete Masterworks Recordings 1962-1973". Both mid-1990s "Private Collection" RCA CDs culled from the pianist's private cache of 1940s/'50s Carnegie Hall recitals are here (but not the three additional 2009/2010 Carnegie Hall material releases), as well as Sony's 2003 "live and unedited" remastering of the May 9, 1965 Historic Return program (Volume 42 contains the Horowitz approved "edited" version).
Lastly, a pair of previously unreleased recitals (Carnegie Hall, March 5, 1951 and Brooklyn College, November 12, 1967) capture Horowitz on top form. The 1951 Prokofiev Seventh builds upon its justly famous 1945 studio predecessor's demonic drive and smoldering cantabiles. Ditto the pulverizing Liszt Sixth Rhapsody. No major differences distinguish the 1967 recital's Beethoven Op. 101 and Rachmaninov Op. 39 No. 5 & 9 Etudes-Tableaux from the pianist's other contemporaneous versions. On the other hand, the Chopin Op. 44 Polonaise proves more volatile and occasionally unsettled in relation to the Carnegie Hall "Horowitz On Television" reading a few months later, while the Carmen Variations contain spontaneous, possibly improvised details unique to this occasion.
A few editorial quibbles are in order. It would have made sense for Sony to include Horowitz's HMV recordings (some of the pianist's most significant), given that RCA Victor released quite a few of them stateside on 78s, not to mention the unpublished Horowitz RCA material available from Naxos outside the U.S. Concerning sound quality, nothing appears to be newly transferred from scratch. Instead, each selection is represented by its most recent and/or best-sounding CD remastering.
Documentation is not what it could have been, and tiny errors persist. In his succinct and fair-minded booklet essay Jon Samuels writes that Horowitz didn't play the Carmen Variations after 1968, when in fact the pianist did, most notably at his 1978 White House recital televised by PBS. A chronology of Horowitz's life cites the May 9, 1965 comeback as an evening event; it actually took place in the afternoon. And how Sony will live down the "Carnegey Hall" misspelling on Volume 59's jacket remains to be seen.
In sum, the complete Vladimir Horowitz "original jacket" collection adds up to a modest investment of lasting value for piano lovers who want to explore this unique, controversial, and profoundly influential pianist's body of work in depth.
Pictures at an Exhibition for Pianoby Modest Mussorgsky Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1874; Russia Notes: Two different performances of this piece are featured in this box set.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in B flat minor, Op. 23by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: Russia Length: 27 Minutes 16 Secs. Notes: Two different performances of this piece are featured in this box set.
Near the southern shore of the Crimeaby Modest Mussorgsky Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1879; Russia Notes: Also known as "By the Water". Arranged by Vladimir Horowitz.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in D minor, Op. 30by Sergei Rachmaninov Performer:
Vladimir Horowitz (Piano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1909; Russia Notes: Two different performances of this piece are featured in this box set.
Horowitz finally gets his due - sort ofDecember 16, 2011By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH)See All My Reviews"After being released in a piecemeal, disorganized manner for decades, all of Vladimir Horowitz's RCA, Columbia, and Sony recordings are now available in one convenient, budget priced boxed set. (The Deutsche Grammophon recordings are not included, of course, nor are the HMV/EMI.) This set contains some newly issued performances, which I will comment on below. For space reasons, I refer you to my other reviews on Amazon for the previously issued material.
While this 70CD set is not remastered from scratch, this set does use the best existing versions of each recording. As for the RCA recordings, wherever possible, the Gold Seal versions from the 1980s and early 1990s are not being used. For example, the Beethoven Moonlight and Waldstein Sonatas from 1956 utilize the Classics Library master from 2004, which is far superior to the Gold Seal CD that was issued around 1990. Likewise, the 1943 Tchaikovsky Concerto with Toscanini uses the source material that appeared in the 1992 Toscanini Collection, rather than the lower quality version that was used in the Gold Seal CD issued in 1990. There are numerous other examples. For those of you who are wondering, the correct takes for the 1976 Schumann Concerto without Orchestra are used in this issue (a set of outtakes was briefly issued by mistake in 1989).
As to the Columbia recordings, Sony is using the same remasterings that were used for the blue boxed set in 1993. (The sole exception is the 1962 Kinderszenen which was remastered in 2003.) In the 1969 Kreisleriana, the (wrong) takes that were issued on the 1993 boxed set and every CD since are used again here. So, hang on to your LPs and the MK42409 CDs if you still have them.
As with other Original Jacket issues, the cover art from the original LPs (or, in a few cases, CDs) is used. The original programming is also strictly being adhered to, which has not always been the case with this series. The advantage is that Horowitz's programming concepts are respected (and Horowitz was a master at building a contrasted and interesting program). The disadvantage is that the playing time for most of these CDs is short. However, at budget price, I'm not complaining. Some trivia: in the early LP era, RCA issued both 10" and 12" LPs, depending on the playing time of the program. For this set, only the 12" LPs are used, with one exception: the Brahms Violin Sonata with Milstein, which was originally issued as a 10" record and only appeared on a 12" LP decades after the fact. Also, none of the 45RPM issues are being used (RCA had issued 45s as a transition between 78RPMs and LPs).
One CD includes assorted RCA recordings that were never issued on LP. This includes both the 1928 and the 1957 expanded version of Horowitz's Carmen Fantasy. The Chopin Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4 from 1975 that was issued on the Japanese version only of Horowitz Rediscovered is likewise included. Also, two CDs have the contents of Horowitz in Concert - 1967-1968 and Discovered Treasures, combined with two short Debussy works that were released in 1993.
Now, some information on the two "new" recitals: both the 1951 and 1967 recitals show Horowitz in excellent form and are valuable additions to his discography - though there is no new repertoire in either recital. The sound for the 1951 recital is mixed, because two different sources are being used: RCA's tapes of the recital and 33 1/3 RPM discs that were made for Horowitz's review. Both the taped and disc items sound cleaner than those in the Private Collection recordings. Mozart's K. 333 Sonata is a radically different (and more musicologically "correct") interpretation than the pianist's 1987 performances - yet I find the later recordings more pleasurable to listen to. Prokofiev's Seventh Sonata is thundering and compelling, similar in conception to Horowitz's 1945 studio recording, but with the added adrenaline he invariably put into his live performances. The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6 illustrates one of Horowitz's unique attributes: he could play "cool" and "hot" at the same time. The ending to this piece defines the word climactic.
The 1967 recital from Brooklyn College is in spectacular sound - indeed it sounds more like the Horowitz I heard live than many of his digital recordings. Horowitz plays the music (including Beethoven's Sonata, Op. 101, five Scarlatti Sonatas, Chopin and Rachmaninoff) in much the same manner as his existing Columbia recordings. Two exceptions are Chopin's Barcarolle, which is played tenderly and in contrast to his other rather tempestuous recordings, and Horowitz's own Carmen Variations, which has a different coda. Both the 1951 and 1967 recordings are unedited, so this is the real Horowitz without any interference: imperfect and utterly compelling.
Where this set falls short is documentation. While the liner notes are reproduced on the back of the mini-LP jackets, you'll need a magnifying glass to read them - and not all the LPs had notes. The 200 page booklet includes track listings, recording dates (some of which are not accurate), another photo of each LP cover, a perceptive essay on Horowitz by Jon Samuels, and a chronology of Horowitz's life. The chronology contains errors, and there is a humorous misspelling on one of the LP jackets. The track listing of Volume 55 does not match the contents of the disc. (I detect the work of interns.) It's not realistic these days to expect that Sony/BMG can give Horowitz the red carpet treatment that Arthur Rubinstein was accorded in 1999 (although Horowitz certainly deserves it), but is it too much to ask for adequate and accurate documentation? The above complaints demote this set from five stars to four.
One further note: The Horowitz material issued in 2009, including the 1986 Berlin Concert and the two Private Collection recitals (an additional CD is planned for 2010) are not included in this set. 2009 is the twentieth anniversary of Horowitz's death. It's nice to know he hasn't been forgotten.
ADDENDUM: This set won the 2010 Gramophone Award for Historic CD Reissue. "Report Abuse
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