Most musicians would have have stopped performing after 7 decades, but not Menahem Pressler. His career was launched after he won the Debussy International Piano Competition in 1946, and he still has the ability to perform a challenging solo recital.
Representing an ever-dwindling generation of twentieth-century pianists, Menahem Pressler was the lifeblood of the Beaux Arts Trio for over fifty years, outlasting personnel changes in the strings to serve as its first and only pianist, until the ensemble’s final concerts in 2008.
Though well into his eighties at the time, Pressler recommitted himself to solo work after his half-century with the Beaux Arts. In the years since, he’s made his belated Berlin Philharmonic debut and performed Schubert’s Winterreise for the first time. He recuperated from surgery last year in time for a celebrated Wigmore Hall appearance and solo recital at the 2015 Verbier Festival.
Now, 92, Pressler’s grit and determination were reflected in his ambitious recital program Sunday at Symphony Center. Traversing from a Schubert sonata and Chopin mazurkas to a Debussy suite and music of György Kurtág, Sunday’s recital was a well-selected goodie bag of repertory, albeit one that ultimately resulted in mixed performances.