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Published on Apr 10, 2008
Vladimir de Pachmann was one of the unique figures of 19th century pianism. He was born in the Ukraine and spent a long time in st Vladimir de Pachmann was one of the unique figures of 19th century pianism. He was born in the Ukraine and spent a long time in st Vladimir de Pachmann was one of the unique figures of 19th century pianism. He was born in the Ukraine and spent a long time in study in Europe before he began concerting before the public properly in 1882. From then until the 1920s he was regarded as one of the top half-dozen pianists in the world, and he has become known primarily as one of the greatest exponents of Chopin ever (though he was more than capable of performing much else besides).
His style belongs to no particular school and he produced no pupils to speak of. He was comparecd to Liszt, in so far as his approach was of his own and stood unique.
However, his approach to Chopin in particular was informed by a great deal of thought and study: similarities exist between his playing and that of Rosenthal, both of whom represent different branchs of an "authentic" Chopin tradition (where Rosenthal studied with Chopin's pupuil Mikuli, Pachmann studied with Chopin's last teaching-assistant Vera Kologrivoff Rubio). It is noteworthy that Rosenthal approached Pachmann for some guidance on Chopin performance.
In his last years, Pachmann developed a reputation as something of a performing clown in his concerts, with a penchant for babbling commentaries through his performances. This reputation is however undeserved: he began recording in the very early days of the grammophone, and his playing, even late in life, could display extreme sensitivity and undertanding. It by no means possible to assume all Pachmann recordings are going to be wonderful, but those that capture him properly can be moving and beautiful beyond almost all others. And his interpretations are refreshingly and utterly distinctive.
This recording of Chopin's Waltz in G flat op.70 no.1 was made in 1925.