in G minor, Op.23

In a fascinating example of the evolution in pianistic interpretation of a great classical pianist, Horowitz plays Chopin Ballade 1 in six different interpretations spanning about 40 years from 1947 to 1985. Horowitz was a master of the turn of phrase and as such the sometimes quite subtle changes detail from one version to another are delicious. If you have the interest and the patience to do a careful comparison of these performances, you will be rewarded.

Generally I find the earlier performances more satisfying, a bit less finicky, perhaps. Horowitz's playing is always stunningly beautiful, but as he got older he seemed to lose interest in the forest and focused more and more on the individual trees. His later performances of smaller pieces, Scarlatti Sonatas for example, or cycles of short pieces like the Kinderszenen by Robert Schumann, are sheer genius, but the structure and shape of larger works can be lost in the glorious details.

recorded in 1947

1965 live studio recording

1968 TV broadcast from Carnegie Hall

1974 Cleveland recital

recorded in 1982
my favorite of all with the most amazing detail

1985 Paris recital

Here is my new book, a murder mystery with a musical polemic

and the audiobook version

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