Works by
Debussy · Fauré · Ravel
Menahem Pressler
Int. Release 09 Mar. 2018
1 CD / Download
0289 479 8756 7

Track List

Claude Debussy (1862 - 1918)
2 Arabesques, L. 66


Suite bergamasque, L. 75

Children's Corner, L. 113

Préludes / Book 1, L. 117



Gabriel Fauré (1845 - 1924)
Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Miroirs, M.43

Menahem Pressler

Total Playing Time 1:06:51

. . . Pressler's latest effort is a typically stunning display of virtuosity and sensitivity, rendered all the more impressive by the sheer longevity of his career . . . these French crowd-pleasers are given new interpretations by one pianist who has certainly heard his fair share of them over the years.

This programme of French piano music is . . . like receiving a box of liqueur chocolates, the contents of which have been extravagantly sourced from rare vintages . . . [this] is the sort of recording that invites us to beg, borrow or steal the scores and learn from Pressler's example. You can of course just lean back and enjoy, but I suspect even casual listeners with even a passing familiarity with some of this repertoire will be forced to pay attention. Pressler's "strict respect" of Debussy's markings can result in some effects we're not used to hearing today. There is for instance a staccato (separated) notation over the chords at the beginning of "Danseuses de Delphes" which sounds very different to any recording I've previously heard. Similar is true of the opening to Ravel's "Pavane pour une infante défunte"; a demonstration of how to play with limpid and lyrical tranquillity while observing pointillist dryness at the same time. It will be intriguing to hear if this has any effect on future performers keen on striving for authenticity. This programme is full of details like this . . . These French pieces are all works for which he clearly has deep feeling and a lifetime of experience. Making comparisons with other recordings seems misplaced in this case, as this is more the type of experience from which we each undergo our own little transformation and move on, educated and appreciative. Other pianists can see if they measure up to something like Pressler's magnificent "La cathédrale engloutie", which is as moving and rich in imagery as any I've come across. The piano sound is close, but rich and clear. There might have been a case for giving a little more distance to help these impressionist sounds blend, but at the same time it seems equally valuable to be up close and personal, and able to hear exactly how the magic is done.

. . . [ce qu'on entend] c'est une musique comme seuls les plus grands pianistes savent la jouer: un phrasé souverain, un chant ininterrompu, une expressivité pure de tout excès, et surtout, un toucher infiniment délicat, varié à l'infini. Le minutage intimidant de certaines pièces ("Voiles dure" cinq pleines minutes, "La Cathédrale engloutie" près de huit) n'est pas le fait d'une lenteur outrancière, mais d'un poids accordé au silence, d'une absence de hâte, d'un calme qui n'abolit jamais la tension narrative, et qui nimbe ces classiques debussystes d'une lumière vespérale, d'un halo de bonheur paisible, profondément touchant. Ces pièces -- le "Clair de lune", "La fille aux cheveux de lin", en particulier -- rayonnent toutes d'une même qualité: une vraie liberté. Pas la liberté calculée et ostentatoire de la tête brûlée qui ne donne un coup de pied à l'institution que pour mieux s'en faire adouber, mais la liberté de celui qui n'a plus rien à prouver. Il n'est pas question pour Pressler de servir de référence, de marquer l'histoire de l'interprétation, mais simplement de jouer une musique qu'il aime viscéralement, de laisser s'exprimer la sensibilité qu'une vie entière a nourrie en lui (et quelle vie, avec combien de joies et d'épreuves!) . . . Puissent les pianistes de vingt ans s'inspirer d'un maître si sage, et conserver à sa suite l'authentique jeunesse: c'est toute la postérité que l'on souhaite à Menahem Pressler.

  • Menahem Pressler - Debussy - Clair de lune (Trailer)

    For over half a century, from 1955 to 2008, Menahem Pressler was the pianist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio. Having devoted his energies to his solo career for the last ten years, he is now, at the age of 94, releasing his first solo album on Deutsche Grammophon. Pressler’s chosen programme of works by Debussy, Fauré and Ravel is his tribute to composers whose music has played a vital role in the development of his career ever since he was awarded First Prize at the 1946 Debussy Competition in San Francisco.

  • Menahem Pressler - Clair de lune (Teaser 2)

    Menahem Pressler is a founding member and pianist of the legendary Beaux Arts Trio and has established himself among the world’s most distinguished and honored musicians, with a career that spans almost six decades. Now, at 94 years old, he continues to captivate audiences throughout the world as performer and pedagogue, performing solo and chamber music recitals to great critical acclaim while maintaining a dedicated and robust teaching career.

  • Menahem Pressler - Clair de lune (Teaser 1)

    Menahem Pressler, a living legend of piano, records his first ever solo album for Deutsche Grammophon. An homage to French music and musicians who have played a determining role in the development of his career, the album features repertoire by Debussy, Fauré and Ravel.