Par 1 Mr. Vladimir de Pachmann, who was last heard in New York four seasons ago, is here again and played yesterday afternoon for the first time. A large audience, enthusiastic and appreciative, listened to him in Carnegie Hall. Mr. de Pachmann has in no way p.333 changed his artistic ideals or his technical methods since he was last here; nor has he greatly enlarged his repertory. He still commands all his old marvel of "touch," his old magic of delicate, filmy iridescent tone, of sighing pianissimo, of purling, rippling passages, of clear articulation to transform the piano into a celestial instrument. It is wonderfully pretty, ravishingly pretty, and it beguiles the senses of the listener in a way that hardly any other piano playing can do.
Par 2 One of Mr. de Pachmann's most ardent admirers, Arthur Symons, said that he gives you "not states of soul or of temperament, not interpretations, but echoes. He gives you the notes in their own atmosphere where they live for him an individual life which has nothing to do with emotions or ideas." He can be accepted thus as a sensuous delight, for a time; but such art before long cloys. It cannot pluck out the heart of any mystery, nor make the music with which it concerns itself truly beautiful or noble in any of the deeper sense that is attached to beauty and nobility.
Par 3 Mr. de Pachmann chose in his program yesterday, for the most part, music that submits graciously to his conceptions and methods; but there were a few of his numbers that did not quite fit them. Thus into Mendelssohn's Rondo capriccioso in E, with which he began, he put a certain sticky tempo rubato that was probably far from Mendelssohn's idea of the rhythm and flow of his absolutely symmetrical measures, designed for absolutely symmetrical playing, although the transparent delicacy and fleetness of the music under Mr. de Pachmann's fingers were delightful. A couple of Godowsky's transcriptions of old-time music, a pastorale by Corelli, and an allegro by Domenico Scarlatti are most perfectly within Mr. de Pachmann's artistic purview. A Tambourin by Rameau, put down upon the program, he omitted; but he added in its place Raff's La fileuse, music a trifle old-fashioned now but blooming into a new life when touched by this artist. An etude by Henselt seemed hopelessly outmoded. With this exception it is all grateful and agreeable material to him as well as to his listeners.
Par 4 His Chopin group was devoted mostly to the Chopin of smaller things, that, as Mr. de Pachmann plays them, need raise no doubts or the feeling of a loss of emotional power in his interpretation. Probably nobody plays Chopin's music more nearly as Chopin himself played it, in scale of conception and quality and subtlety of tone. Some may have wished for a greater dramatic power in the Revolutionary p.334 etude, Op. 10, No. 1 [12], not necessarily more volume of tone; more passion in the Prelude in D minor, and a more feverish intensity in that in B flat minor, which was the first of his two additions to the list. But the Nocturne in F, the C major etude, the A flat ballade, the G flat etude, were flooded with beauty by Mr. de Pachmann's playing. He included in his list the Mazurka in A minor that many consider spurious and, if genuine, a product of one of Chopin's weakest moments; but he even made that plausible.
Par 5 After apologies expressed in elaborate pantomime and inaudible words, Mr. de Pachmann began his last group with the printed notes of the pieces before him on the piano. It comprised Rubinstein's so-called Study on false notes, which would be an amusing jeu d'esprit but for its inordinate length and unnecessary padding, Schumann's piece called Ende vom Lied from the Fantaisiestücke [Fantasiestücke], Op. 12, and Liszt's tarantelle, Venezia e Napoli, whose brilliant and alluring bravura also suffers from too great length. It was a pity that he missed the spirit of Schumann's strongly individual and very musical little composition and that he took it at a pace that made it entirely incomprehensible.
Par 6 At the close there was the rush of misguided enthusiasts to the edge of the platform that seems to be a necessary feature of piano recitals at the present time. But Mr. de Pachmann allowed himself to be persuaded only to the extent of exhibiting to his admirers a remarkable technical tour de force—he played the Revolutionary etude from Chopin that he had already given in its original form, in a transcription for the left hand alone. The net result of this seemed to be to establish the fact that it sounded much better as Chopin wrote it.