by Francis D. Perkins
Sole Survivor of Rare Disease
Maryla Jonas, who had been kept away from the concert stage
for nearly five years by an obscure and nearly fatal illness,
returned to it yesterday afternoon when she played music
by Mozart and Chopin at Carnegie Hall.
This was where the then little known Polish pianist
had made her first North American appearance on Feb. 25, 1946,
and was hailed in enthusiastic reviews
as one of the foremost women pianists of our day.
The illness of which she became a victim in 1952
was described as a rare blood disease.
Miss Jonas was said to be its only survivor
among nine or ten cases known thus far.
She has completely recovered from it, as her husband, Dr. Ernest G. Abraham,
emphasized after the concert.
But the severe nervous strain attending a return to the platform
after these stricken years—of which
more than two had been spent in bed—prevented her from illustrating
her artistry at its best; she had to curtail the program,
not completing Chopin's Polonaise in F sharp minor at the close.
But yet she provided examples of what she has done here in the past
and is to be expected of her in the future.
In particular, Chopin's Nocturne, Op. 55, No. 2,
was memorable for its exquisite lyricism of tone and imaginative atmosphere;
Mozart's Adagio in B minor (K. 540),
combined tonal lucidity and appeal with an engaging wistfulness.
The Chopin group included two locally unknown works.
One was a typical Mazurka, the other, played with deftness and lightness,
was "Souvenir de Paganini," a series of variations
on the tune known as "Carnival of Venice."