VLADIMIR DE PACHMANN'S farewell recital, or the occasion announced
as such, took place last night in Carnegie Hall. Mr. de Pachmann
must have been pleased by the size of his audience and the reception
extended him, for the hall was packed and many sat on the
stage, and enthusiasm ran high.
The pianist was rarely in the vein. The G minor Ballade combined
lyrical beauty with wildly dramatic declamation. It made
its effect in performance through the cunning with which Mr. de
Pachmann marshaled his physical resources, and by means of
well-contrived proportions and contrasts which made a greater
emotional effect than could have been achieved by mere physical force.
As a technical accomplishment as well as poetic interpretation, the
performance of the A flat major Étude
of Opus 10 was a notable instance.
In the second group were the D flat Nocturne, the Preludes—which
Mr. de Pachmann professed to need his music to play—in E
minor and F sharp major, three of the mazurkas, and the F major
Waltz. In the third group came the E flat minor Polonaise, the F
sharp major Impromptu, and the B flat minor Scherzo. The
performances, especially of the nocturne, of the E minor Prelude, and
of the B flat Mazurka, had the loveliness and melancholy that inhere
in supremely beautiful things.
The polonaise of the final group, like the ballade, was played in
a manner within Mr. de Pachmann's scale of dynamics, yet the
introduction has seldom been more ominous or the following
outbursts more defiant when they came. The pedaling of the curious
impromptu, one of the most original pages in Chopin, was
particularly significant, while the performance of the scherzo must
reluctantly be characterized as balderdash. It can be dismissed
with other of Mr. de Pachmann's foolings as a thing not to be taken
seriously or kept in the memory against exquisite manifestations
of his art.
Certainly the masterly interpretation of Mozart's C minor
Fantasia, one of the greatest compositions for piano in existence, would
in itself have done much to justify the occasion. For when Mr. de
Pachmann is greatest, the listener is under the spell of music which
seems to have escaped human thralldom; music of a charmed
rhythmic life; song that floats on the air with a delicious grace and
waywardness past the telling. Then it is realized that this extraordinary
man, a virtuoso, at seventy-six, of astonishing qualities, and on
occasion a great poet of his instrument, has achieved and forgotten
more than many a pianist ever knew.
The audience was naturally loath to leave the hall, and Mr. de
Pachmann, at a late hour of a particularly impressive "farewell,"
was still playing encores.