[These excerpts appeared in Pianists: On and Off the Record:
The Collected Essays of Jan Holcman
compiled and edited by Donald Manildi, College Park, MD,
International Piano Archives at Maryland, 2000.
Holcman's dates are 1922-1963.
The essays excerpted here are dated 1958-1962, as indicated.
The page numbers shown here belong to the 2000 republication.
Comments by Nigel Nettheim are shown in .
This web version is dated 17 May 2003.
[Chapter 16. The Honor Roll of Recorded Chopin. Originally published in
Saturday Review, 27 February 1960.]
. . . I have also included one of the first Chopin discs ever made
(1907)—an Etude played by the unpredictable Pachmann, who is most
compelling here. If historical circumstances alone would not justify such
an inclusion, certainly the performance merits it. The fidelity is astonishing
for the early 1900s. . . .
[Chopin Etude] Op. 25 No. 9. Earliest Pachmann: G&T of 1907! APR 5531.
[Chapter 18. Liszt: His Piano Works on Records (1903-1961).
Originally published in Saturday Review, 23 December 1961]
p.98 I begin by listing Liszt's exponents who first introduced certain
seldom-performed works. . . .
Pachmann left an elegant and sparkling reading of Liszt's Mazurka
unreleased Victor, c.1911, the work itself having been composed just after
[Chapter 28. How Live is "Live"?
Originally published in Saturday Review, 27 October 1962.]
The idea of the artist playing in the relaxed atmosphere of his home—if
any recording session can be relaxing—was not born in the LP era; it
originated much earlier. In the summer of 1928, Francis Planté
was recorded at his residence in the French countryside, and
a dozen years earlier Vladimir de Pachmann had entertained visiting
machines in his home in England.
[Chapter 30. The Labyrinth of Chopin Ornamentation.
Originally published in The Juilliard Review,
Vol. V, No. 2, Spring 1958.]
The first consideration will be given to the artists whose interpretations
may have been closer to Chopin's tradition. The oldest Chopin performer of
renown who recorded on shellac was Pachmann (b. 1848), although the less
eminent Chopin exponents, Planté (b.1839) and Diémer (b.1843)
did make recordings. Pachmann could easily have heard Mikuli and Mathias
while already a mature pianist himself. . . .
The next curious and contradictory case is that of the Nocturne, Op. 27 No. 2
(Lento sostenuto), where bar 16 has the mordent symbol over a minor third
preceded by an identical third of thirty-second value (ex. 16).
. . . The recorded renditions of this Nocturne completely confirm this theory
Among the older generation of pianists, Pachmann plays the mordent on
the beat, striking the bass note shortly before the mordent begins. His speed:
dotted quarter = 32 (!) or dotted quaver = 64 (48 for an undotted quarter,
if you accepted the first alternative for Chopin's metronomic notation).
At this rate, to be sure, anticipation is not too difficult, either. . . .
The concluding and perhaps most unusual example to support an anticipation
combines both pianistic and musical motivations. It is the Impromptu
in A-flat, where the confusing accented mordent symbol greets us in the
opening note in the right hand (ex. 21). . . .
The recorded pianists present two approaches to the Impromptu's mordent:
1. On the beat, as a triplet—only Pachmann, at a speed of 148.
2. Off the beat . . .