We visited Rachmaninoff often in Switzerland, usually around four in the afternoon. Volodya amused Rachmaninoff with his imitations of various pianists. For instance, he would do the elderly Ignacy Paderewski, who comes out on the stage and can’t find the piano, or figure out which way to go, all the while looking bewildered. It was quite accurate; I had seen Paderewski like that! (I remember a concert in Dallas: expensive tickets, loads of people. Paderewski wandered around the stage exactly as Horowitz had mimicked him, then sat down at the piano. He started to play, and you couldn’t hear a thing! He played so softly . . . But a lady near me sighed with delight, “How divine!”)
Horowitz also parodied the pompous Arthur Schnabel. Or Walter Gieseking: how Gieseking raises his arms for a powerful attack, lowers them forcefully on the keyboard, and gets only a mezzo-forte sound.
Rachmaninoff adored those caricatures of Horowitz’s . . . until Volodya did his Rachmaninoff imitation for him. Volodya came out, hunched over, heavily dragging his feet, then sat down and rubbed his face in a characteristic gestures. Rachmaninoff took offence. And that was funny too!