The internationally celebrated, Grammy Award-winning Pacifica Quartet joins forces with legendary pianist Menahem Pressler of the Beaux Arts Trio for Johannes Brahms’s Piano Quintet in F Minor, Op. 34, a pillar of German Romanticism that opens with one of the most recognizable melodies in classical music.
Pressler, a consummate chamber artist, performs the virtuosic piano part with a clarity and transparency that makes the piano seem like a fellow member of the string ensemble. This noteworthy generation-crossing collaboration yields a spacious, sweeping traversal of the Brahms Quintet that sets its own pace to build suspense and drama.
While Pressler has performed the Brahms Quintet with marquee stringRead more quartets of the past 50 years, this is his first recording of it. The album offers the unusual, perhaps unprecedented, pairing of Brahms’s early Piano Quintet with a string quartet by his champion Robert Schumann, in this case, the String Quartet in A Minor, Op. 41, No.1, which the Quartet has been performing since early in its career. Dedicated to Mendelssohn, this buoyant, sprightly Romantic quartet showcases the Pacifica’s virtuosity and exuberant performance style while offering a contrast to Brahms’s moodier masterwork. This is the Quartet’s first recording of a Schumann work.
The pianist Menahem Pressler was a founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, a fabled name in chamber music from 1955 until 2008. Now 93, he is still playing. Inevitably, each new recording has particular value. Here, he thunders and dances through Brahms’s huge F minor quintet Op 34, embracing the grandeur of the opening, the poignancy of the Andante, the turbulence of the Scherzo and the impassioned high drama of the Finale.