Vladimir Horowitz

Variations on a Theme from Bizet's "Carmen", for piano

    Description by Robert Cummings

    This is an unusual piece in that virtuoso pianist Horowitz wrote this set of variations but kept the score to himself. He performed it on concert tours, of course, showed it to a few acquaintances, and made a piano roll of it, but he apparently had no desire to see it published. Pianist Arcadi Volodos made a version of it (with some changes) by listening to Horowitz's recordings of the work. Musicologist Stephen Husarik also made an edition of the score from the piano roll. Horowitz uses the Act II Gypsy song from Carmen as a springboard for his variations. The music is extremely challenging to the pianist, sounding like a mixture of Liszt, Balakirev (à la Islamey), and Ravel. The colorful theme is heard at the outset in a rapid tempo, the music rhythmic and driven. Soon its mood turns playful, but its technical challenges even greater, as notes cascade from the upper register and rhythms become even wilder. In the latter half, a variant of the theme is played in the bass, briefly providing a calmer, less hectic atmosphere. But suddenly the music explodes into fireworks, with a frenzied tempo, forte sonorities, and octaves flying about the keyboard.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Centaur Records CRC 3534
    2015 MSR Classics MS 1559
    2015 Sony Classical 88843054582
    2013 Sony Classical 88883768602
    2013 EMI Classics
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Deutsche Grammophon B 001660602
    2009 Ondine 834
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 741940
    2009 Sony Classics 8869742200
    2009 Sony Music Distribution 88697575002
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 715794
    2008 Oasis Productions Limited 7/3
    2008 Telarc Distribution 60711
    2008 Telarc Distribution 80711
    2008 Dal Segno 023
    2007 Diskant 92
    2006 Living Era AJC8563
    2006 Diskant 85
    2006 Living Era 8560
    2005 Rca Red Seal 61273
    2004 Sony Classical 93075
    2003 Sony Classical 93039
    2003 RCA 56052
    2003 Naxos 8 110677
    2002 Urania 213
    2001 BIS 1188
    2001 RCA 63861
    2000 APR (Appian) 2000
    2000 Philips / Philips 464381
    1999 Pearl 9262
    1999 VAI Audio 1177
    1999 BMG 7432163471
    1997 Sony Classical 62691
    1994 Sony Classical 53465
    1993 Sony Classical Essential Classics 53456
    1992 RCA 60526
    1990 CBS Records 42305
    1990 RCA 7755
    1989 CBS Records 44797
    Bryan Verhoye
    Isophon 90681
    Fone 9012
    APR (Appian) 7014
    UNT College of Music
    Orchard 000
    CBS Masterworks 44681