Par 1 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.
Par 2 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 [No. 10] of Opus 10 was a notable instance.
Par 3 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.
Par 4 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 p.107 seriously or kept in the memory against exquisite manifestations of his art.
Par 5 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.
Par 6 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.