Listen to the Heroic Polonaise. Could Horowitz play legato or did he make the decision to play detache so that Chopin's music is chopped into discrete slices, thereby destroying both the line and the rhythm of what is, after all, a magnificent, ceremonial dance? Listen to the Waltz in C sharp minor. Would Horowitz play leggiero or did he make the decision to play staccato so that Chopin's music is cut into separate wedges, thereby disrupting the ebb and flow of what is, after all, a melancholy, sophisticated dance? Listen to the Etude in C sharp minor. Should Horowitz play every single note sforzando, or did he make the decision to pound and pummel Chopin's music into pulverized pieces, thereby obliterating everything good in what is, after all, an evocative and expressive study in digital control?
There are moments of beauty and wonder in Horowitz's playing -- soulful mazurkas and limpid waltzes -- but they are overwhelmed by Horowitz's narcasistic virtuosity. Not that his virtuosity is flawless: the final run at the end of the Ballade in G minor is hopelessly smeared and the double octaves throughout the Scherzo in B minor are hopelessly smudged. But Horowitz's playing always draws attention to itself and always expresses nothing but itself. Chopin's music, the ostensible and only reason for the existence of this disc, is utterly missing in the mirror of Horowitz's reflection. Sony's remastered sound is loud and clear.