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Dip Your Ears, No. 174 (Menahem Pressler Recital)

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Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven
Piano Sonata D.894, Rondo K.511, Bagatelles op.126
Menahem Presser
La Dolce Volta

90, going on 91

I fondly remember Menahem Pressler’s 80th Birthday recital at the Library of Congress, marveling then and since at his unquenchable musicality, wit and every effervescent key he pressed. His mistakes were more musical than most other pianists’ right notes. Now Pressler is past 90 and goes as strong as ever with recitals and CD releases putting joy in our ears. Not running on the fumes of a career and gratitude (à la Hilliard Ensemble or Kurt Masur) Pressler still delights with his skill, touch and the distilled insight of seven decades of music-making.

In these “Tales from Vienna”, Pressler turns to Schubert, Mozart, and Beethoven as a bouquet of high classical piano writing, starting with the massive, 45 minute Schubert Sonata No.18, that gets a delicate and artlessly simple treatment. The Mozart Rondo K.511 cleans the palate with its easily expressed geniality and generosity, its gentle elation and inward sorrow. All its complexities become understated means, not ostentatious ends. To round out the recital, Pressler turns to Beethoven with his beloved Hamburg Steinway—the late Bagatelles op.126. Pressler sparkles throughout.

First appeared in AUDITORIUM.