P1235. VLADIMIR de PACHMANN: Chopin Recital; Schumann, Mendelssohn, Verdi-Liszt (the latter's RIGOLETTO Paraphrase). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-370, recorded 1911-27. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Some pianophiles, myself included, consider Pachmann one of the greatest pianists who ever made recordings...."
- Leslie Gerber, CLASSICAL RECORDINGS QUARTERLY, Autumn, 2012
“In the late nineteenth century and early in the twentieth, when anyone of musical culture mentioned Chopin, the name of Vladimir de Pachmann would immediately come to mind, the one name never far behind the other, seemingly forever linked…. de Pachmann was the first to play everything of Chopin, not only the large-scale works, but the smaller masterpieces and some works that had never been played….de Pachmann was the first to give Chopin cycles, such as those which he played at his American début in New York in the 1889-1890 season: three concerts which included both large scale and smaller works…. The composer Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji wrote an excellent summary of de Pachmann’s art: ‘The almost unlimited range of his gradations within a mezzo-forte and an unbelievable ‘quasi-niente’; the amazing fluidity and limpidity of his ‘jeu perlé’; his delicious dainty staccato; the marvelous cantilena; the exquisite phrasing, and the wonderful delicate fantasy of the whole … made his playing of certain works of Chopin an enchantment and a delight’…. Of de Pachmann’s playing of the Larghetto from the f minor Concerto, American critic Olin Downes wrote: ‘… if it is said that when he sang on the keys, the ineffable song of the Larghetto, angels wept over the bars of heaven, it is only a little more than the truth. Indeed the music had a haunting seraphic melancholy, a freedom from every thralldom of this world only to be evoked by the supreme artists and the pure in heart’.
Even the most casual listener, hearing de Pachmann’s recordings for the first time, will notice the difference between his Chopin interpretations and modern performances. Certainly this is because of de Pachmann’s extreme use of performance practices of the nineteenth century.
Perhaps the pianist was right when he said at the end of his life, ‘I shall not be forgotten, I have made some gramophone records. And when your children and your grandchildren ask you who was this de Pachmann?, you will be able to show them how he played and understood the works of Chopin. And though they cannot see me, they will hear my voice through my music and they will know why all the world worshiped de Pachmann’.”
- Edward Blickstein, Program Notes
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011