Chapter  6.3

 6. 3 Columbia/CBS/Sony Classical            

 6. 3. 1 From 1984 to 1990

 At the times that Horowitz was under contract with Columbia/CBS, LPs dominated the music market and CDs had not yet been invented. Columbia/CBS hadn’t released any 78s or 45s of Horowitz before, so after CDs came on the scene, the label started reproducing all of his LP recordings on CDs. In 1984 and 1985, they released 15 CDs of his performances, using the same contents and jacket images as those of the corresponding LPs. The photos below are of the CDs sold in Japan. Out of 15 CDs, two CDs initially released and priced at 3,500 yen: one containing Chopin’s works, and the other containing three piano sonatas of Beethoven. The remaining 13 CDs were priced at 3,200 yen and 5,200 yen (2-CD set). These CDs were priced relatively high because they were the first CD products of Horowitz released by the label. The CDs mentioned above are important and fundamental.

The U.S. and Japanese versions had the same jacket for each CD. Appendix III.7 lists the pieces on the CDs.




            Later, some of them were rereleased with the same jackets as before, but most of the CD cases were made of paper instead of plastic, especially in Europe. Some CDs used the same jackets as those of the previous versions, the following of which were rereleased with some additional content:

   Scarlatti Piano Sonata Collection, four versions: 12 pieces (first edition), 17 pieces, 18 pieces and 20 pieces (containing two bonus tracks)

  Chopin Collection, two versions: 12 pieces (first edition) and 17 pieces

  Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, two versions: three pieces (first edition) and five pieces (containing two recordings of Schubert’s Impromptus) 

Out of the 15 CDs, the Scarlatti Piano Sonata Collection and the Beethoven Piano Sonatas were the most frequently rereleased CDs.

 Following these 15 CDs, the label released a 3-CD set containing only Chopin’s works, and a 3-CD set containing Horowitz’s performances in Carnegie Hall from 1965 through 1966. Later, a further 3-CD set was released that contained his 1968 recital in addition to the same content as that of the latter 3-CD set.


   3 CDs  


             From 1986 to 1989, CBS released 10 CDs as the Masterworks Series and a 3-CD set. In 1989, another CD, MK45572 “Horowitz in Concert 1967, 1968,” came out and was simultaneously released in the LP format as well in some countries. All pieces on this CD were the first ever released recordings. This is also one of his important and fundamental CDs. The pieces on MK45572 are provided in Appendix III.9.



        12 MASTERWORKS  

      1987 2CDs   


 The above two CDs had the same content and were released in 1987: one was sold in Europe, and the other in the US.

             In 1989, drawing on their 100-year musical legacy, CBS Sony released a set of 100 CDs containing performances in all fields of classical music such as operas, symphonies and instrumental music. Among these, 18 CDs contained instrumental music and 12 of these included piano performances, and Horowitz’s recordings were included on three of those CDs. 


          BEST CLASSICS 100  


After his death, Sony Classical released “Horowitz: The Last Recording” in 1990. The CD contained Wagner/Liszt’s Isolde’s Liebestod, Bach’s cantatas and others. All the pieces on the CD were released for the first time (no data on the performance dates are available). This means that Horowitz made an attempt to explore totally new repertoires until just before his death. The album was also released in the LP format. I have included it in the Appendix, “Photomaps  of Important and fundamental CDs” Please also refer to Appendix III.9 for the pieces on the CD. 


             The Last Recording  


 Horowitz received a Grammy Award for this CD. Below is a small free CD that was made for the purpose of marketing the album. The sample CD contained three pieces: one each by Haydn, Liszt and Chopin. 


         Very Small CD 


6.3.2 From 1991 to 2007

 The year 1991 saw the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, when a 2-CD set was released featuring the charity concert celebrating the 85th anniversary of Carnegie Hall in 1976 (already released on LP). As stated in the previous chapter, Horowitz played an active part in the concert, playing with Isaac Stern, Mstislav Rostropovich and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

At the end of the concert, all the performers including Leonard Bernstein sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The large poster (“maestros singing Hallelujah”) below was included with the Japanese version of the LP. Some audiences attest that the maestros had difficulty singing well at first, so Bernstein took a step forward and conducted the chorus to create harmony. The pieces on the program are listed in III.9.


        85, Carnegie Hall, SM2K46743-A-2CD  

   Poster  maestros singing Hallelujah 


Three megatrends appeared after Horowitz’s death: (1) releasing previously unpublished sources, (2) promoting sales of existing music sources through various channels in collaboration with other companies, and (3) releasing Horowitz’s complete works.

In 1992, unpublished studio recordings were released under the title of “HOROWITZ Discovered Treasures.” Only released on CD (not on LP), it included his studio recordings between 1962 and 1972 and one piece from a recital at Carnegie Hall. Fourteen out of the 18 pieces were his first recordings: we weren’t able to listen to Horowitz playing those pieces until this CD was released. The remaining four pieces had been released before, but Bach’s BWV 639 and Medtner’s Fairy Tale op. 51-3 were on a CD that was distributed to certain parties as a Christmas present, so they were not commercially available. According to Robert McAleer (quoted in the discography), Bach’s BWV 639 was recorded on a 7-inch CD that was distributed to executives of Columbia Records in 1969, but it didn’t contain Medtner’s Fairy Tale. (The image of the LP containing Medtner’s Fairy Tale can be found in the previous chapter.) Also, Horowitz’s recording of Chopin’s Étude op. 10-6 had not seen the light of day except on piano roll. It is rumored that Clementi’s Sonata op. 50-1 was once published as an informal LP, but this is as yet unconfirmed. Therefore, all the pieces on this CD were made public virtually for the first time. Hence, this CD is symbolic of the first megatrend. The pieces contained in the CD can be found in III.9.




Around this time, Horowitz’s CDs began to appear in classical music compilations for the general public or as exclusive products for members of musical subscription services. The image below is just one example from the 1990s. This reflects the megatrend of diversifying the distribution channels of Horowitz’s recordings.


        The CD Club


In 1993, the 90th anniversary of Horowitz’s birth, Sony Classical remastered Horowitz’s recordings that were owned by Columbia Records in a 20-bit format and sold them as a 13-CD collection box titled “The Complete Masterworks Recordings, 1962–1973.” This product is typical of the third megatrend—the release of complete collections. These 13 CDs were also sold in 2- and 3-CD sets, so there are nine jackets in the image below.

 The recording sources for this collection had mostly been published before. However, this collection was not a mere reproduction of LPs but a newly compiled CD collection, so it can be regarded as “important and fundamental.” The pieces contained in this collection can be found in III. 8. Two pieces in the collection were released for the first time.


   The Complete Masterworks Recordings, 1962–1973  


In 1993, Sony Classical again released a 100-CD set (CLASSICAL CATALOG BEST CLASSICS 100), also including three Horowitz CDs. One of the three CDs was different from the previous set, though. The 100 CDs were remastered in 20-bit format, and one CD also came with an 8-cm CD containing sample recordings of Horowitz and many other players. In addition, the set also included a handbook covering all the 100 CDs and one sample CD, which also contained an excerpt of a Horowitz recording.


       CLASSICAL CATALOG 4 CD + 1 Doc.  

      +8mm(very small CD) 


In the mid-1990s, Horowitz’s recordings were often featured in a wide variety of products like this. The image below shows the jackets of CDs released between 1994 and 1996. In 1998, a CD box was released that was just a repackaging of two CD sets from the complete collection that had already been released in 1993 (The Complete Masterworks Recordings, 1962–1973). In contrast, a CD set marketed in Italy in 1995 that looks similar to another blue-colored 13-CD box, was, in fact, a separate product. It contained 17 Scarlatti sonatas but did no previously unpublished recordings.




In 1996, Sony Classical once again released “Sony Classical Best Classic 100—Premium Edition.” This contained remastered recordings that were produced by using the newly developed DSD (Direct Stream Digital) system, and five out of the 100 CDs featured Horowitz. The DSD system converts analog signals into 1-bit digital signals at high speed and directly records the digital signals at a sampling rate that is 64 times faster than that for CDs. During playback, waveform reconstruction is not necessary, so we can hear a more analog-like sound. The image below is of one of the five CDs in the collection that had a different jacket from that in the previous set.




In 1997, Sony Music released a special 2-CD set at the request of Time Life. In addition to the performances that Sony Classical had been licensed to produce, it included a live recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (New York Philharmonic, Eugene Ormandy) performed at a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of Horowitz’s American debut) that was licensed to BMG. This CD does not mention the date of the performance, but the date information has been added in II.5 (CD discography) as it was easily identified.


       1997 Time Life CD


 In 1999, Sony introduced a new type of CD dubbed the “Super Audio CD” in Japan, which will be discussed in Section 6.3.4.

 In 1989, Sony/CBS released a 4-CD set “Sony Classical Great Performances 1903–1998” to celebrate the centennial anniversary since the establishment of its predecessor Columbia Phonograph in 1889 when it began its recording business. In addition to renditions by numerous performers, the set contains three piano pieces by Horowitz: two recordings made on May 9th, 1965, and one made in 1989, just before his death.




In 2001, Sony Classical released a 10-CD box set titled “THE ORIGINAL JACKET COLLECTIONVLADIMIR HOROWITZ,” with the same content and jacket (both sides) of the first edition LPs that had been released by Columbia Records, and including the same booklet as the original 10-LP box set. This set contained reproductions of the following LPs: KS6371, MS6411, MS6541, MS6658, M2S728 (2LPs; MS6765 and MS6766), M30464, MS7264, M30643 and M31620. However, there were six more LPs that were not included in the CD set for some reason, such as the live recording in 1966 and Horowitz on TV.

 The 10-CD box set released in 2001 blazed a trail for Sony Classical’s 2009 release of the “Complete Original Jacket Box” that contained reproductions of LPs by Columbia Records and RCA/BMG as well as unpublished recordings. The jackets inside the box are the same as those of the LPs, so the image below only shows the appearance of the box itself.




In 2001, a CD “V. Horowitz A REMINISCENCE” was released. This was an excerpt from the video under the same title released in 1993. However, this CD contained Scriabin’s Vers la flamme recorded in 1972, not the recording made at Horowitz’s home in 1974 that was the most important rendition in the video. The CD did not contain Clementi’s Piano Sonata op. 26–2 either, which was released for the first time in the video.




In 2003, many projects were undertaken to commemorate the centennial anniversary of Horowitz’s birth, especially in Europe, where two CD sets of the complete works of Horowitz were released.

 One was a 15-CD set with paper jackets that Sony Classical produced in Austria. Most of the CDs in that set have the same jackets as the previously released LPs, but their contents are different. The LP record numbers appear on the CD jackets because Sony Classical just scanned the LP jackets. Thus the pieces included in the CDs are different from those which appear on the CD jackets.




The other set was “V. Horowitz Frankfurter Allgemeine Klassik Edition,” which was produced by a German newspaper in Austria. This 10-CD set included a bonus DVD. The jackets of each CD and the DVD are of the same image in different colors.


        Frankfurter Allgemeine  


In 2003, the live unedited recording of the historic return recital on May 9th, 1965 was released. It also included Schuman’s Kinderszenen from a 1962 recording, which had been released several times on LP. The unedited live recording naturally included some wrong notes, but they made the music all the better because they made us feel the tense atmosphere of the live performance. Horowitz had wrong notes edited out when he released live recordings. Horowitz’s true worth lies in his live performance, and this CD set paved the way for subsequent releases of his unedited CDs. However, what makes this set so special is the bonus DVD. The DVD contained only a 10-minute movie, an excerpt from a longer film that had been recorded at Horowitz’s home but which had been excluded in the previously released DVD “The Last Romantic.” In this movie, Horowitz played some piano pieces and talked with Wanda and Jack Pfeifer. He was very relaxed and gave an enjoyable performance, though he hit a lot of wrong notes. In it, Wanda glared at her husband who was playing willfully and was rather distracted. Horowitz played some parts of Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca, Rachmaninoff’s Polka de W. R. and his own Carmen Variations. When he finished with Chopin’s Étude Black Key, he asked Wanda, “How about Moszkowski?” She frowned, but Horowitz began to play Moszkowski anyway, and finished his playing with Liszt’s Au bord d’une source. The same DVD was included in a CD set released by Frankfurter Allgemeine.

 This CD set is important and fundamental because it contains the first unedited recording. The pieces included in this set are summarized in III.9. The photos below are of some interesting items like the recital program and an article from the New York Times. 



     New York Times etc.    


In the same year, Sony Classical published a 3-CD set to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Horowitz’s birth. 


        3-CD set to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Horowitz’s birth.  


Almost all of the pieces included in the set had been published before, except for the first release of Rachmaninoff’s Études-tableaux op. 33-5 recorded at a N.Y. studio on December 10th, 1967, and also Scriabin’s Feuillet d’album, op. 58, which had not been released on LP. Therefore this CD set should also be deemed important and fundamental as it contains some pieces that were released for the very first time. The pieces contained in this set are summarized in III.9.


    Inside of  SSK93039  


In 2004, four CDs in DSD format were released in the U.S. and in the U.K. under the title of MASTER WORKS EXPANDED EDITION. 





Each of these CDs has two bonus tracks, including the first release of Scarlatti’s Piano Sonatas K.260 (L.124) and K.319 (L.35) that were recorded on November 12th, 1967 and released in the U.K. (5174872) and the U.S. (SK90414). The bonus tracks also included Chopin’s Études op. 25-1 and op. 25-5 that had been released both on CD and LP. The CD set also contained an excerpt from Beethoven’s piano sonata Pathetique, which had also been released previously.

In 2004, Sony Classical brought out a CD with a jacket that was quite similar to that of a CD that had been released previously in 2001 in the U.S. and the U.K. under the same title of A. Reminiscence, but the content of the 2004 CD was different from that the 2001 version.

      A Reminisscence    


In 2006, Sony Music acquired BMG and became Sony BMG Music Entertainment. The new company released two CD sets in 2006:


       Sony Classical CD

  French CD 


The 2-CD set that was put on sale in France had a new box but the same content as a previously launched 2-CD set that had been sold in a paper jacket (2003).

 In 2007, Sony Classical released The Very Best of Sony Classical 100, containing excerpts of 100 classical pieces on six CDs, including five of Horowitz’s performances. Also, Sony BMG launched a 60-CD box set titled Beethoven Complete Masterpieces in Germany that also included a CD-ROM. The set contained most of Beethoven’s works, including the Waldstein Sonata played by Horowitz. 


   SONY The Very Best of Sony Classical 100   


6.3.3. Sony Classical 2008 

 Sony acquired BMG’s stake in 2008. As RCA/BMG and Columbia/CBS/Sony Classical have a massive collection of Horowitz’s recordings, the acquisition was bliss for Horowitz fans.

 In 2008, several recordings from the collection of CBS/Sony Classical were re-released: four CDs from BEST Classic 100 (1996) and a re-released edition of Horowitz the Last Recording. They had the same jackets and contents as the original CDs.

Also in the same year, Sony/BMG released a CD box set The Original Jacket Collection Vladimir Horowitz. The box has almost the same design as that of the 10-CD box set released by CBS in 2001 (with a different image of Horowitz in the center) but the content is different.

 The 2008 box set could be called an RCA edition as it contains pieces from RCA’s LPs with their explanatory booklets (Vols. 1 and 2). Both sides of the CD jackets are the same as those of the LPs, though the dog image above the RCA logo that was on the front of the LP cover has been deleted on the CD jacket. Many pieces were newly added to the CD box set though the back side of the CD jacket is the same as that of the original LP edition, so you need to check what is actually included in the CD by referring to the explanatory booklets or the backside of the box. This set only contains the earlier recordings and some of the later recordings with RCA, but the set became so popular that it was soon re-released with the same CD number. In the re-released version, the two explanatory booklets were bound into one.



In 2009, 20 years after Horowitz’s death, Sony Classical released The Vladimir Horowitz Collection. This box set consists of two smaller boxes. BOX I (26 CDs) has all his RCA recordings and BOX II has 13 CDs from CBS sources, two CDs from the gala concert celebrating the 85th anniversary of Carnegie Hall, and one CD (Horowitz the Last Recording). The set also contains a bonus DVD (Horowitz in Moscow) and a CD containing his interview in London in 1982, so the set has a total of 44 CD/DVD discs. The CDs have individual plastic covers.

 The CDs are just in plastic bags without jackets. CD No. 44 contains an audio recording of an interview with Horowitz at a live radio broadcast of his London recital in 1982 as well as his own Carmen Variations (long ver.) performed in 1957.

    V. Horowitz Collection BOX I,II+DVD     


In 2009, Sony Classical released part of the Yale Collection in cooperation with Carnegie Hall on three CDs. These CDs are important and fundamental as the pieces performed on them had never been previously been released. The pieces are listed in Appendix III.9.


   3 CD from the Yale Collection  


Sony Classical also released a CD box set under the title The Original Jacket Collection Vladimir Horowitz. The box set was a perfect reproduction of LPs that had been released by RCA and CBS and had the same contents and jackets as the original LPs. The box design was the same as that of the CD box set, which contains recordings by CBS and RCA and was released by Sony Classical, but the new set was a massive collection of 70 CDs, including recordings that were only released on CD not on LP, and that were released for the first time in this collection. This set contains all the recordings made by RCA and CBS, so given the new era after the merger of the two companies, it should be considered important and fundamental.


      70 CD-BOX  


The pieces that were released for the first time were on four CDs (consisting in total of seven discs, but excluding three of the disks that contain Horowitz’s performances at Carnegie Hall that had been published immediately before). The first CD (CD No. 37) contained the performances that RCA released on 78s but not on LPs (however, some of the pieces were in fact previously released on 45s and LPs) and three newly-released pieces. The second CD (two discs, CD No. 53-a, b) was actually of previously released performances, namely, those on Discovered Treasures and Horowitz in Concert 1967/1968. Therefore, this CD should not be considered a new release. However, the CD had a new jacket that I had never seen before. The third CD (two discs, CD No. 59-a, b) contained the recording of a recital at Carnegie Hall on March 5, 1951, and the fourth CD (two discs, CD No. 60-a, b) contained the recording of a recital at Brooklyn College in New York on November 12, 1967. These third and fourth CDs (four discs in total) were newly released and came in new jackets, so these are also fundamental and important. The pieces on them are listed in Appendix III.9.


      Include the first release  4CDs   


Moreover, a CD containing Horowitz’s recital in Berlin on May 18, 1986 and several other pieces was released. This Legendary Berlin Concert CD was released for the first time, so it is important and fundamental. The pieces on it are listed in Appendix III.9.

 The Legendary Berlin Concert CD comes in English and German language versions. The German language version comes in two types of cover: a plastic case and a paper jacket (the former contains the narration of the FM broadcast on the day of the performance), but both types have the same image on their jackets.


        Berlin Recital   


Later that year, two more CDs were released; one of RCA recordings and the other of Sony recordings, but neither contained newly released material. However, they each came in a unique case: you can slide the lid aside to take out the disc. The Japanese version was in a specially made case.


  2009   CD BOX of Japan  


In 2010, fewer CDs were released that contained only Horowitz’s recordings. See the relevant sections for CDs featuring Horowitz and some other performers. From 2010 to 2012, nine CDs were released in Europe, all of which were re-releases with different jackets.


      SONY  MUSIC 2010


A 41-CD box set of Horowitz’s live recordings at Carnegie Hall hit the shelves in 2013, which will be detailed in 6.5.


6. 3. 4. Sony’s attempt to realize high-quality CDs             

             In 1982, Sony and Philips played a key role in the development of the compact disc (CD) digital audio system. The audio CD has since become widely available. The first recording was made by adopting a 16-bit PCM, and the format evolved to higher levels: 20-bit and 24-bit. Then, in 1996, Sony introduced the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) system to replace PCM. However, the company continued to pursue a higher quality audio format. In 1999, it had launched its Super Audio CD (SACD) audio format, which was followed in 2003 by its Premier Gold CD with vapor-deposited gold. Later, in 2008, it developed its Blu-spec CD format using the same material as that of Blu-ray discs that were developed for video data, and in 2012, it released the Blu-spec CD 2 as an upgrade of the older version. Horowitz’s performances have been recorded on these high-quality CD formats too. His playing on such CDs can be listened to on any normal CD player, but the advanced feature of the SACD version is only really apparent when you play it on an SACD player. The Premier Gold CD edition is provided in a special big case. The edition, released in 2015, is in the SACD format and contains the same recordings as Horowitz on TV and unedited recordings of his recitals on January 2 and February 1, 1968, as well as a DVD video.


        Super Audio CD etc.