Sunday, September 18, 2016

Vladimir Horowitz - HMV Recordings (1930-1951)

Almost without exception these performances are free from any excess and in many cases Horowitz sounds a great deal more classically disciplined than do a number of today's young pianists. Of course, one could attribute his economical use of rubato to the limited recording time afforded by each side of a 78, but one senses that his style of playing in the 1930s was rather lean and concise in terms of bending the phrasing or metre of the music. Of the pre-romantic pieces, the Scarlatti and the Haydn are for me the most interesting. The submissive softness of the B minor Scarlatti Sonata gives way to the freakish virtuosity of the G major, and yet the group ends with the sparsely notated A major, in which Horowitz makes individual notes sing disarmingly. Haydn's largest-scale sonata, very acceptably recorded with a fullish piano tone, exudes style and incisive phrasing. The mood is lively and the artist has a complete appreciation of the structure of the work. Sound-quality in the Chopin group is variable: the F major Etude, Op. 25 No. 3 features very distant and antiquated piano tone and there is a patch of slight pitch distortion in the C sharp minor Mazurka from Op. 50. If the E minor Nocturne, which is after all an early work, is too subtle for some (it is suffused in a Scriabin-like mystic haze), then the incomparably refined use of tone and pedalling in the first Impromptu will, I think, convince the most hardened sceptic of Horowitz's standing as a great Chopin pianist. The Fourth Scherzo confirms this opinion and the delicately dancing passages are effectively contrasted with ones of turbulent unrest. As far as technique goes, this is the best version I have heard of the piece. Of the smaller pieces, it was the Debussy Etude and the Poulenc Toccata that caught my imagination. The bubbly textures in the former make this a reading that is fantastically compelling—the 'study' character of the piece is quite obliterated. It is also hard too to avoid using superlatives when discussing Horowitz's Schumann. The Arabeske is propelled along at a relatively sedate pace, allowing for real expressive warmth. The performance of the Toccata convinced me yet again that this piece belonged to Horowitz : Simon Barere's performances are like those of a butcher by comparison. Details are highlighted in the most incredible way, as in the amazing playing of the Presto Passionato. So much has already been written about the classic accounts of the Liszt Sonata and the Rachmaninov Third Concerto that I shall restrict myself to commenting on the sound-quality. The Sonata is quite dry acoustically, but this heightens the razor-sharp touch of Horowitz in the virtuosic passages, whilst the glowingly evocative moods of the quiet ones are also maintained. In the concerto, which was incidentally Horowitz's first such recording, the detail of the solo part stands out pretty well against the orchestra. The piano tone is slightly 'cracked' (i.e. not entirely pure), but the Dower of the climaxes comes over well. I would like to pay tribute to Albert Coates's very real contribution to making this such a marvellous performance, and also for getting the orchestra to play so well. This is a serious reading, which does full justice to the subtler aspects of the score. Soloist and conductor work together with obvious sympathy. The final CD is rounded off with Prokofiev's Toccata, which Horowitz introduced to the USA. It is predictably electric, the sonorities being heaped on one another at an amazing pace. Altogether, these three discs present a feast of piano-playing from one of the giants of twentieth-century pianism.
James Methuen-Campbell, Gramophone [March,1990]

Source :

Vladimir Horowitz


Cd. 1

Johann Sebastian Bach
 (arr. Busoni)

1 Chorale Prelude: Nun freut euch, lieben Christen, BWV 734  1:58

Domenico Scarlatti

2 Sonata in B minor, K.87  4:22
3 Sonata in G major, K.125  2:07
4 Sonata in A minor, K.188  3:38
5 Sonata in A major, K.322  2:44

Joseph Haydn

6 Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI:52  14:42

Frederic Chopin

7 Etude in C-Sharp minor, Op.10 N° 4  2:03
8 Etude in G-Flat major, Op.10 N° 5  1:34
9 Etude in F major, Op.10 N° 8  2:23
10 Etude in F major, Op.25 N° 3  1:32
11 Impromptu N° 1 in A-Flat major, Op.29  3:43
12 Nocturne in E minor, Op.72 N° 1  4:37
13 Mazurka in F minor, Op.7 N° 3  2:24
14 Mazurka in E minor, Op.41 N° 2  1:56
15 Mazurka in C-Sharp minor, Op.50 N° 3  4:13
16 Scherzo n° 4 in E major, Op.54  8:43

Claude Debussy

17 Etude n° 11: Pour les arpèges composés  3:33

Francis Poulenc

18 Pastourelle (L'Eventail de Jeanne, n° 8)  2:12
19 Toccata in C major   1:52
(from 3 Pièces pour piano, n° 2)


Cd. 2

Ludwig van Beethoven

1 32 Variations in C minor, WoO 80 9:29

Robert Schumann

2 Arabeske, Op.18  6:15
3 Toccata in C major, Op. 7  4:40
4 Traumeswirren, Op.12 n° 7  2:20
5 Presto passionato, Op. 22  5:29

Franz Liszt

6 Funérailles (Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, n° 7)  9:12

7 Piano Sonata in B minor, S. 178  26:30
Lento assai - Allegro energico - Andante sostenuto
Allegro energico - Andante sostenuto - Lento assai


Cd. 3

Serguei Rachmaninoff

Piano Concerto n° 3 in D minor, Op.30
1 I. Allegro  14:23
2 II. Intermezzo - Adagio  8:06
3 III. Finale (Alla breve)  11:12

4 Prelude in G minor, Op.23 No.5  3:15

Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
 (arr. Rachmaninoff)

5 The Flight of the Bumblebee  1:10

Igor Stravinsky

6 Danse Russe (from Petrushka)  2:16

Sergei Prokofiev

7 Toccata in D minor, Op. 11 3:36


Vladimir Horowitz - p
London Symphony Orchestra/Albert Coates [cd 3, #1-3]

Recorded in London & Berlin, between December 29, 1930 & October 11, 1951

(See the complete artwork for all details)


musician3 said...

Magnificent!!!!.....Thank You

sydney98 said...

Christmas early this year. thanks loads

Michel said...

Great stuff! Thanks!!!

pedro gamundi said...


renato said...

Thank you.

jazzcat1228 said...

Thank you, Mel!

Historicus said...

Hi, if you find the time can you please upload these HMV recordings of Maestro Horowitz again?
Thanks a lot!

Melanchthon said...

Joe Smith said...

Hey, the links are dead again. Do you mind reposting them? Thank you!

Joe Smith said...

Courtesy of Melanchthon:

Thanks for the repost!