Mainly Opera

De Pachmann Complete

MR 54003 (4cd)

Vladimir de Pachmann (1848-1933)

Complete Recordings

Complete recordings of the legendary and controversial pianist. Collected in a single set for the first time.

Vladimir de Pachmann, piano

Recorded 1895-2003


Vladimir de Pachmann (1848-1933), the most controversial of the few pianists alive during Chopin\'s lifetime who also left recordings, studied piano at the Vienna Conservatory with Joseph Dachs and theory with Bruckner, making his debut in 1869. Soon he heard Tausig, von Bülow, and Rubinstein, stopped performing entirely and locked himself up to practice compulsively. When he emerged ten years later his playing had features of all three, plus a uniquely smooth, pearly quality. He began to appear in public again in 1882, just about the time when he met Liszt, whose personality and playing became the greatest influence in his life. Always high-strung, he gradually discovered that if he talked to his audiences, his stage fright lessened. The public adored his Chopin, which frustrated him, for he wanted to play Beethoven also. Within a few years he gave in to public demand and became the number one Chopin specialist of all time. Concurrently his platform behavior evolved into a kind of show, with grimaces, muttered asides, and boasts. As well known for his eccentricities as for his Chopin, the American critic James Huneker dubbed him "The Chopinzee," and the sobriquet stuck. Pachmann was the first internationally famous pianist to record commercially, making many records of varying quality over two decades starting with 1907 G and Ts. He was quoted saying any of his records were not "One percent of de Pachmann," although at the end he realized that glimmers of his art would live through them. A few of his worst records became his biggest sellers, for on them he talks during his playing. But many of his lesser-known recordings are among the greatest ever, unique, for his pianistic style harks back to the Hummel school. Knowing only his worst records, critics have dismissed him, but on his best records one can hear some of the finest piano playing ever recorded. De Pachmann-biographer Edward Blickstein contributes the liner notes.

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