A curious legend has been for decades current in English and American musical circles regarding Vladimir de Pachmann and Chopin. As the folk-lore specialists and ethnologists have discovered, in their own spheres of study, that no legend is without its kernel of fact, so also in the case of Pachmann and Chopin a small inner kernel of truth may be found at the centre of an immense mass of pulp—the fiction surrounding it. Before his extravagances and eccentricities had almost entirely swamped his artistry, that is to say up to within fifteen or even ten years ago, his playing of the smaller nocturnes, waltzes, études and mazurkas was exquisite—the almost unlimited range of his gradations of tone within a mezzo forte and an unbelievable quasi niente, the amazing fluidity and limpid liquidity of his finger work, his delicious dainty staccato, the marvellous cantilena, the exquisite phrasing and the wonderful delicate fantasy of the whole, all made his playing of these things an enchantment and a delight. Of these things: but of these things only [NN: not also the F minor Concerto? one might wonder]. Always he was a lamentable failure in works on a large scale or cast in a heroic mould; his lack of intellectual staying power, grasp, personal force, or ability to think in big sweeps, the essential smallness of his style and his musical outlook has been pitifully revealed. Equally terrible has been the revelation on the few (very few) occasions on which he has ventured to try conclusions with the 'paramount Olympians' such as Bach, and he had the good sense generally to avoid what was so evidently beyond his range. Miniaturist—p. 177exquisite miniaturist he has been—with the merits and defects of miniaturists. But the miniaturist, applying the wrong end of the telescope [NN: Sorabji has evidently taken that metaphor from Huneker, Chopin: The Man and His Music, 1900, p.157: "a tornado seen from the wrong end of an opera glass"] of his Lilliputian style to the Ballades, the great Polonaises, the Sonatas, the Scherzos, has been hailed as the supreme and inspired interpreter of Chopin, one side at least of whose musical genius has been musically and spiritually completely a closed book to him—as if any artist could in any sense be considered a great Chopin player who could not play the greatest, deepest and most typical products of his genius! Busoni, the greatest mind and supreme creative-interpreter among pianists of modern times, who could do all and much more than Pachmann in Pachmann's own sphere, with a glowing white fire of intellectual power added, that was as utterly out of Pachmann's reach as Busoni's Bach, once said with his usual subtlety and profundity to a pupil of his who came back after a Pachmann recital, noisily enthusiastic: 'My child, if you cannot do all that Pachmann does, and if it is not just one small part of your powers, you are not a pianist'.