Mozart, Debussy

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy,Mozart
LABELS: EuroArts
WORKS: Piano Concertos Nos 23 & 27; Mozart: Rondo K511; Debussy: Clair de lune
PERFORMER: Menahem Pressler (piano); Orchestre de Paris/Paavo Järvi
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 2059888; Blu-ray: 2059884

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Perhaps the real gems here are the encores: a performance of Mozart’s hauntingly melancholy A minor Rondo K511 that truly tugs at the heartstrings, and a no less ravishing account of Debussy’s Clair de lune. The Mozart Rondo follows a performance of his Concerto No. 23 in A given earlier this year, just a few weeks after Menahem Pressler’s 90th birthday. Possibly in his earlier days (when he was famous as the pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio), Pressler would have taken the Concerto’s finale at a livelier tempo, but what it may lack in sparkle and verve is more than compensated for by the mellowness and wisdom of the playing.

Mozart’s last piano concerto, No. 27 K595, was recorded in the autumn of 2012, and Pressler is a touch more sprightly in its outer movements. In the slow movement his tempo is a good deal more lingering than is fashionable these days, and he doesn’t attempt to decorate Mozart’s sometimes skeletal melodic line. But again, the playing is eloquent in its simplicity, and the final reprise of the melody, with the piano doubled by the first violins on their own, is infinitely touching. Pressler is sympathetically accompanied throughout by Paavo Järvi, and in a bonus conversation between the two musicians, Pressler points out that at his age he’s no longer concerned with success, but only with connecting people, as he puts it, to the music that means so much to him. He certainly does that.

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Misha Donat