Liszt was also the one qualified to bring to practical realization the theoretical treatise on the performance of his works projected by Chopin but never executed. All the important pianists of recent time have, at least, studied with Liszt, among them Tausig and Rubinstein. 1 That the latter plays Chopin with such a sense of style is certainly due in no small degree to Liszt's influence.
How does Rubinstein play Chopin? I doubt that he plays otherwise than Chopin played, although far more accomplished technically. How wonderfully conceived was the Funeral March from the Sonata in B flat minor! A theater setting could not have realized this mournful picture more vividly. But above all the last movement, which bursts like cutting scorn upon the voice of love, of melancholy, of resignation in the softly fading funeral music! Away, away with your plaints and sighs, with your devotion, with your memories, your incurable nagging pains! -- That is its awesome message in the howling storm of the triplets, whipped along as if by the whirlwind. Above the fresh burial mound the winds whistle and play with the fragrant wreaths, bedewed by hot tears. Tomorrow, perhaps, the teary veil will turn to dust before the beneficent smile of the rising sun. Oh, a far too mournful philosophy speaks from the monotonous strain of this dreadful postlude.
December 20, 1885
"Everything in moderation." This maxim, redolent of worldly wisdom, works as well in ordinary life as in art. It can be applied just as aptly to an excessive indulgence in pigs' feet (as attested in a poem, "Alles mit Mass" [ Everything in Moderation] by E. Mörike1) as to an over-indulgence in musical pleasures, as demonstrated in no small degree by Anton Rubinstein's piano recitals.
But we are not among the apostles of moderation. We have never preached abstemiousness, self-laceration and mortification. No musical Trappist we. But to listen for an entire evening to Russia's hopeful music of the future might well sour the most nihilistic patriot of the Czar's realm. Sour is the right word. I would as soon be transformed by magic into an old bassoon as endure another such evening. I was so soured 2 that not even the most harmless triad could relieve my distrust of "the power of music."
If the Poles have had the worst of it wherever and whenever they have opposed the Russians, this time it was the Russians who came off badly, despite numerical superiority. Yes, yes. Chopin did them in. Eleven etudes by Chopin opened the hostilities at this last of Rubinstein's recitals. It was a hot
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Publication information: Book title: The Music Criticism of Hugo Wolf. Contributors: Henry Pleasants - Editor, Hugo Wolf - Author. Publisher: Holmes & Meier. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1978. Page number: 175.
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