Menahem Pressler Recital

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven; Chopin; Debussy; Schubert
LABELS: Ideale Audience
ALBUM TITLE: Menahem Pressler Recital
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Menahem Pressler (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 3079668; Blu-ray: 3079664

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Even in a profession where ‘Indian summers’ are not uncommon, Menahem Pressler’s new career is extraordinary. For half a century he was the fleet-fingered pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio. But when the ensemble folded three years ago, he had no intention of folding with it. Instead, he has gone solo – and his playing is so to the point, so musically insightful and infused with such compassion that, wonderful though the trio was, it’s hard not to wish he’d done it years ago.

Pressler was 87 when this recital was filmed in March 2011. His technique may be somewhat dimmed, but the twinkle of his distinctive sound remains as fresh and beautiful as ever; so, too, his astute pointing of musical structure, and the sheer love with which he communicates these great works. His programme offers radiant late Beethoven, well-sprung Chopin, refulgent Debussy and an interpretation of the Schubert B flat Sonata that twists the gut and lingers in the heart. Playing of such humility, warmth and purity is eminently cherishable.

Pierre-Martin Juban’s straightforward, well-judged direction provides a fine match between style and subject. Pressler plays from the music, with a discreet page-turner, none of which becomes intrusive; the background is a simple black and the camera observes the musician at work as clearly as possible, with a good but not excessive variety of angles. No extras, though there’s an illuminating essay in the booklet by Pressler himself, touching on the personal significance of the works in the recital. Really, his playing says it all.

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Jessica Duchen