Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Sound of Horowitz

Vladimir Horowitz was one of greatest artists of the twentieth century. His legendary reluctance to public appearances made the recordings were main factor deciding on his artistic development. As gramophone recording artist, Vladimir Horowitz was active since 1928, when he for the first time was recorded by RCA Victor. Earlier, in 1926, his performances were registered on many piano rolls by Welte-Mignon. In time of Great Depression he recorded for His Masters Voice, it was European RCA’s affiliate, and then till the end of fifties his recordings were published by this company. Since 1953 it was continued second period of withdrawal in the artist career. In 1962 Horowitz begun studio sessions for CBS. The Sound of Horowitz is one of his early recitals recorded in CBS studios during four sessions on 6, 13 & 29 of November and December 18th, 1962. 
Although he was already well-known virtuoso, CBS tittled first Horowitz recitals as he was new on the music market.  The Sound of Horowitz was his second recital recorded for CBS. First was recorded in April and May 1962 and published in 1962 by Columbia Masterworks label under the tittle Columbia Records Presents Vladimir Horowitz and comprised Chopin’s Sonata No. 2, Rachmaninoff’s Etudes Tableaux, Schumann’s Arabesque and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 19. For this album in 1963 pianist received two Grammy Awards (for Best Solo Performance and Best Classical Album). Next year The Sound of Horowitz was awarded with Grammy for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance without orchestra. In this category Vladimir Horowitz was awarded also in 1965 and 1966.

The Sound of Horowitz (1963)

The recital comprised by the frame of The Sound of Horowitz album became reference point for pianistic artistry. Whole program has been constructed with precision and main idea behind. It starts with full cycle of thirteen Scenes of Childhood by Robert Schumann. Treated by assumption as being not difficult, miniatures were not composed for children. Small, sometimes episodic but mostly composed in binary form, miniatures of strong imaginary potential became Horowitz specialty. Rich and constantly changing Kinderszenen op. 15 and emotionally powerful Toccata op. 7 shows two opposite sides of Schumann’s works, deep sensitiveness and vivid expression are like two sides of composer personality. This contrast is getting even bigger considering relations between Schumann works and three of Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonatas beginning next side of the record. Repetitions in Sonata in G (L. 209) can be seen as a culmination of virtuoso technical display. And once again Horowitz shows brilliant technique just to reverse and strengthen melodious factor of piano music.
This is Franz Schubert’s Impromptu in G-flat op. 90 nr 3 showing how intensively and lyrically he can carry the melody. And Schubert’s musical language was always based on melody and imagination. Inner beauty of this music is making the phenomenal context for three compositions by Alexander Scriabin: Poem op. 32 nr 1, Etude in C-sharp Minor op. 2 nr 1 and Etude in D-sharp Minor op. 8 nr 12. Especially recorded by Vladimir Horowitz renditions of Scriabin’s Etudes have historical meaning as perfect interpretations and the result of extraordinary inventiveness and philosophical inspirations. The same can be said on every piece of The Sound of Horowitz recital. Beginning with romantic miniatures and virtuoso Toccata, jumping to early sonata form, then going to loosy romantic and postromantic forms Vladimir Horowitz shows piano as perfect singing instrument. This is the recital no piano admirer can miss.

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