Menachem Pressler and Friends

Date and Venue 17 January 2010 @ 3.00pm | Unity Church, Oak & 42nd, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

In the 62 year existence of this chamber music company and the 14 years that we've been reviewing shows, this is the first time I'm reviewing a concert by FOCM. And I ask myself: "Why is it only now that I'm reviewing a show by this Chamber Music company?"

I only came across this company because of John Stape who was reviewing the FOCM shows, and recently, my fellow reviewer David Powell, a chamber music specialist, did a review recently. I received a media release from Eric Wilson, and asked David to review the show, and since he had other commitments, I said: "I'll do it. Why not? I'd like to check it out."

Indeed, I was impressed. No wonder Mr. Stape liked going to the FOCM performances. From watching Menachem Pressler and his friends, I recognized the supreme quality of chamber music from Pressler, a veteran of 50 years, distinguishing himself as an honored musician throughout his career. With his three friends, talented musicians Alexander Kerr,violin: Kim Kashkashian ,viola :Eric Kim, cello, they joined him in a one-afternoon program featuring two of the great piano quartets (Mozart and Dvorak) plus a cello work of Hindermith (Sonata for solo cello Op. 25, No. 3) played exquisitely by cellist Eric Kim.

The first part of the programme was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Quartet in E flat major, for piano and strings, K. 493. This is one of Mozart's innovative piano quartets, innovative in the sense that all four instrumental parts are treated as equals. I was expecting the star of the show, Menachem Pressler, to come out, distinguishing himself in this piece, but surprisingly, he served almost as the background pianist to the other three string instrumentalists. Then it sank in. Aha, that's how Mozart intended it.

The next piece was Paul Hindermith's solo cello sonata which was humorously introduced by Eric Kim, recently appointed Professor of Music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. He said that there were five movements to the Sonata, but not to'll only last 9 minutes. So it was!

After the intermission, Antonin Dvorak's Quartet in E flat major for piano and strings, Opus 87 was delivered with elan by these four excellent musicians. The full house audience clamored for more, and they were consoled by an encore number, Brahms' Piano Concerto in C minor.

Now I know the calibre of FOCM and I'll be looking forward to reviewing more of their concerts.

© 2010 Ed Farolan