Listeners who revere the postwar recordings of pianist Vladimir Horowitz for RCA and Columbia and especially listeners who admire his last recordings for Deutsche Grammophon may, in the interest of self-preservation, wish to ignore this disc of piano roll recordings made in the '20s and '30s. Because no matter how much one enjoys his later recordings, honest listeners will have to admit Horowitz was a far greater pianist when he was younger. In these splendid-sounding piano roll recordings included on this Del Segno disc, listen to the clarity of Horowitz's playing, the lucidity of his textures, and above all the breathtaking ease of his virtuosity. In Horowitz's performances, one can hear everything in these pieces -- every sixty-fourth note, every trill, every appoggiatura -- articulated with total control. Try any work at random and be prepared to be floored. Horowitz's Variations on Bizet's Carmen is astounding in its accuracy and energy; his preludes in B minor, A minor, and G minor by Rachmaninov are astonishing in their precision and drive and his Fantasy on Mozart's Marriage of Figaro by Liszt and Busoni is amazing in its daredevil acrobatics. Anyone who relishes great piano playing -- except, of course, those who wish to preserve their opinion that the older Horowitz was a better pianist than the younger Horowitz -- is urged to listen to this disc.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Fantasy on Two Motives from "Le Nozze di Figaro," transcription for piano (after Lizst, S. 697), KiV B66