Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Great Pianists: Horowitz (The First Recordings)
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Piano Concerto No.3 in D minor Op. 30 (1909)
Vladimir Horowitz (piano)
London Symphony Orchestra/Albert Coates
Recorded in Kingsway Hall, London, 29-30 December 1930
CHOPIN: Mazurka No.21 in C sharp minor, Op.30 No.4; Etude in F major, Op.10 No.8;
DEBUSSY: Serenade for the Doll (from Children’s Corner);
DOHNÁNYI: Capriccio in F minor, op.28 No.6;
BIZET-HOROWITZ: Variations on Themes from Carmen;
SCARLATTI: Capriccio in E major, L.375;
SCHUBERT-LISZT: Liebesbotschaft (from Schwanengesang);
LISZT: Valse oubliée No.1, S.215; Paganini Etude No.5 in E major (‘La Chasse’);
LISZT-BUSONI: Paganini Etude No.2 in E flat (‘Octave’);
HOROWITZ: Danse excentrique
Vladimir Horowitz (piano)
All solo items recorded at Victor Studio No.1, Camden, New Jersey and Liederkranz Hall, New York, between March 1928 and March 1930
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110696 [65’56]


This is another valuable release from Naxos Historical as it restores to the catalogue the earliest of Horowitz’s three commercial recordings of Rachmaninov 3. It also gives us three previously unreleased solo items as part of a fascinating recital, recorded when the maestro was in his twenties and just beginning to establish a serious reputation.

Horowitz’s later (1951) version of this much-recorded concerto is generally regarded as his finest, with the pianist still on top form and with superb support from Reiner and the RCA Orchestra. Still, this 1930 recording, one of the very earliest the work received is well worth hearing. It suffers from understandably primitive sound, with quite a bit of orchestral detail muffled or hidden, and balance between piano and orchestra occasionally unfocused. Naxos’ resident magician, Mark Obert-Thorn has done an excellent remastering job to make it into the very creditable end result we have here, and despite flaws it is easily possible to judge the performance objectively. What we get, as one would probably expect from the young firebrand, is pianistic dynamism of the highest order. The Russian-born Albert Coates is in overall charge, but many times one gets the impression that Horowitz is leading the way. The opening pulse is pretty fast, and it soon becomes apparent that the pianist is revelling in being able to cram all the detail in despite the fast speed. As mentioned, a fair bit of Rachmaninov’s soloistic orchestral detail is rather muddy, a good example being the lovely bassoon passage at 3’55. Tuttis are generally quite well handled, though at 6’43 we hear one of many places where the soloist is racing ahead of his partners. It all makes for a tremendously exciting experience, where even uncertainty of ensemble simply adds to the impression of a live experience. Horowitz opts for the ‘easier’ (or perhaps one should say less ostentatious) cadenza, actually the more musically satisfying. The slow movement is well done, and the finale kicks off at a blistering tempo. It’s a pity we get the two traditional but disfiguring cuts, and there is a memory lapse from the pianist at 7’05 (nothing serious, just piano and orchestra parting company for a few seconds before getting back on track). The clarinet delay is almost understandable at 7’53, given the soloist’s impetuosity, but the sum total is a marvellous historic document, full of personality, temperament and flair.

All but three of the solo items have appeared on discs before, but are all worth having again. The three 78 sides now included are the Schubert-Liszt Liebesbotschaft, the Liszt-Paganini Etude No.5 and the Chopin F major Etude. All are despatched with phenomenal accuracy and volatility, though the rather tinny sound of the piano does not help (it sounds in dire need of a tuner at the top end). All the remaining items are enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the Dohnányi Capriccio, famous for its hair-raising difficulties and something of a calling card for Horowitz, who revels in the technical hurdles. I love his rhythmic snap in the Chopin Mazurka as well as its touching close. The Debussy has plenty of pedal but is superbly controlled. Scarlatti was always a favourite of Horowitz, and in this E major Capriccio we hear his customary dexterity, with the closing runs in thirds delivered with fabulous panache and glitter.

It goes without saying that this will be a must for dedicated pianophiles. Warts and all, it’s difficult to imagine a more viscerally exciting rendition of the concerto, and the solo items, the very first things he did in the studio, offer a real insight into why he became the legend he did. This sort of outsize personality does not come along very often. Snap it up and enjoy.

Tony Haywood

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.