Beethoven, Schubert & Chopin
This album, featuring pianist Menahem Pressler, takes its title from the names of the three composers to which it is dedicated. It presents two of the last works by Beethoven (Piano Sonata No.31, op. 110, middle-panel of his last sonata-tryptic) and Schubert (Piano Sonata no.21, D 960, dedicated to a little impressed Schumann) and an early composition by Chopin (Nocturne in C sharp minor, op. posth., which he wrote shortly before leaving Poland in 1830 and not published until 1870).
Neither the simple title nor the famous names themselves are enough to guess the richness and beauty of this recording – they can put you on the right track, of course, but you have to listen to it to be completely aware of what it offers. Pressler is a poet and expresses feelings and harmonies as only a sensitive man and musician can.
The principal themes are always played with a crystalline sound (which in the end becomes characteristic) and the accompaniment is so exquisite and intense that the piano seems an entire orchestra. Pressler uses piani and forti of the instrument to create breath-taking effects, especially in the last, marvellous movement of Schubert’s sonata, which has little resemblance to a farewell (as the date of its composition may suggest) and is instead a lively composition. Beethoven’s sonata is definitely more sombre and it is an occasion to find warmer nuances, while Chopin’s Nocturne becomes a disconsolate, sorrowful piece in Pressler’s hands.
These works strike the listener with their heartfelt and touching interpretations, where everything has mean and value when you linger on details – but there is even more to think when you have listened to the entire album. It is a lesson of life and I think this is the best achievement music can reach.