M. and Madame de Pachmann's Recital
(London, Thursday 20 February 1890)
Before departing, like most successful musicians, to
America, these excellent pianists announce two
concerts, the first of which took place in St. James's-hall
yesterday afternoon, when both players appeared.
The first duet was Schumann's andante with variations
for two pianofortes, delightfully played, though
exception might be taken to the comparatively slow
pace adopted—no doubt with the intention of attaining
clear articulation—for the sixth variation,
marked "animato" by the composer. The four-hand
arrangement of Beethoven's fugue in D, op. 137,
written for string quartet, is not very well fitted for
concert performance, although it should be welcome
in any form, since it is most rarely played in its
original shape. This was followed by a version for
two pianofortes of Henselt's romance in B flat minor,
and the famous étude, "Si oiseau j'étais". Encored
in this piece, the artists played it again, but, for
some reason unexplained, in its original form, simultaneously,
or, as it is somewhat improperly called, in
unison. M. Saint-Saën's Scherzos op. 87, for two
pianofortes, made a brilliant close to the concert.
Madame de Pachmann had the principal share of the solo
music, as was only right, considering that at the next
concert her husband appears alone in a programme
selected exclusively from the works of Chopin, in
which few living pianists can rival him. The selection
of Schubert's lovely sonata in G and Mendelssohn's
"Variations Serieuses" shows that Madame de Pachmann
aims at the highest class of pianoforte playing—namely,
the intellectual as opposed to the brilliant: and that
she is justified in doing so will be evident to all who
have watched the rapid improvement in her style.
Both were played with remarkable refinement and
repose, as well as great clearness and precision. Two
pieces by Chopin and a vulgar "Galop Boulbakow"
by Liszt completed the number of the lady's solos.
M. de Pachmann's principal solo was the fantasia in F
sharp minor dedicated by Mendelssohn to Moscheles:
the opening andante was played with exquisite taste,
and the whole performance would have been on the
same level but for a slight failure of memory in the
last movement, for which the player may well be
excused. He failed to impart to Schumann's
"romance" in D minor as much passion as some
players have given it, but in the two pieces by Chopin
he was, of course, at his best.