Bach JS, Barber, Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Clementi, Czerny, Debussy, Domenico Scarlatti, Fritz Reiner, Haydn, Horowitz, Isaac Stern, Kabalevsky, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Menuhin, Milstein, Mozart, Mussorgsky, Ormandy, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Rostropovich, Schubert, Schumann, Scriabin, Tchaikovsky, Toscanini, Woodside
Label : Sony
Format : Flac track
Cover : Full
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. 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.
Complete tracklist : Horowitz – The Complete Original Jacket Collection