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Gib Achtzig

New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art
10/18/2003 -  
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Trio elegiaque, Op. 9
Franz Schubert: Trio # 1

Menahem Pressler (piano)
Daniel Hope (violin)
Antonio Meneses (cello)

Many of us would mark our eightieth birthday by putting a candle in our oatmeal and staying up until nine o’clock. Menahem Pressler is celebrating his by doubling his workload, presenting a major series of five concerts at the Metropolitan Museum and featuring two performances of his signature Beaux Arts Trio. Mr. Pressler has been the rock of this group for so long that he has now taken on the identity of paterfamilias. On his third violinist in the past five years, he shows no sign of slowing down; if anything, his vitality challenges his younger mates. The latest iteration of the storied group has had some time to gel now, and the overall effect is a pleasant one. There was much beauty in the Rachmaninoff, individual moments tinged with just the right touch of exoticism. The two string players blend well enough to produce a lingering, lyrical tone, but the highlight of the piece was unquestionably the long solo piano introduction to the second movement. In music of more import, however, the thinness of the strings left one feeling shortchanged. One really needs to rethink a desire to perform such a masterwork as the Schubert One when no real power can be induced from the ensemble. Pressler, as perhaps he should under the circumstances, held back quite a bit so as not to overpower his charges, but the resulting lack of bottom and drive left this performance a shadow of the Beaux Arts’ former self.

Frederick L. Kirshnit



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