Peter the Great- Peter Frankl with the Kelemen Quartet in Budapest

A wonderful review from the distinguished critic Ates Orga after reading Julian Jacobson’s comment on social media: ‘Jaw dropping ‘

Peter Frankl and the Kelemen Quartet in Budapest tonight with superb performances of the Franck and Brahms Quintets.What a lesson Peter Frankl in his 87th year playing with all the youthful passion of the superb Kelemen Quartet less than half his age.I remember Peter remarking about his friend Menahem Pressler playing the Franck Quintet for the first time in his nineties and remarking that it was one of the most difficult and strenuous works in the repertoire.
And yet here in Budapest Peter played not only the Franck Quintet but also the Brahms Quintet – two monuments of the chamber music repertoire.
And what a lesson it was as he weaved his way in and out with his magnificent players in a musical conversation that today has no peers.
Hugh Mather,of that musical Mecca of St Mary’s in Perivale,just commented that he thought Peter no longer played in public.
How wrong can you be!
Just listen to these performances last night!

Peter had to have two 80th birthday parties in London – one for his English friends and one for his Hungarian friends – there were so many people that wanted to pay tribute to one of the most loved musicians of the day.Together with his inseparable wife Annie they are one of the most loved couples for their intelligence warmth,humility and supreme artistry.A rarity indeed these days where quantity has been mistaken for quality.
Many people thought he no longer lived in London as he never plays there any more.
Peter would commute to Yale University for many years but always came back home to London.
He would often come with Annie to play for us in Rome and it would of course include a visit to the Villa Borghese or other famous monuments.But they also insisted on coming to see my wife on stage and I well remember the fun we had in my wife’s green room afterwards.One year Peter got a letter from Dame Moura Lympany congratulating on his superb performance of the Liszt Sonata at the Ghione Theatre.He had no idea that such an illustrious colleague had been present.Little did anyone know that when Moura was housebound in Montecarlo due to a stroke just before her 80th birthday,I used to send her videos of all the concerts at the Ghione theatre.We would then discuss and enjoy the performances together.I well remember a young Canadian pianist Katherine Chi from the International Piano Academy in Como ,playing the Hammerklavier Sonata and both Moura and Peter after hearing the video asking how they could help such an enormous talent.Moura and Peter – two of the most generous artists that has been my privilege to know.
Peter and Annie go more to the opera and the theatre than to piano concerts and they would often ring us up to say they had seen a play that would be particularly ideal for Ileana.
‘Glass Menagerie’ was a terrific success for Ileana thanks to them.( Rosalyn Tureck made a journey especially from Florence to Empoli to see her in it)

Peter now feels uncomfortable to play solo piano from memory and refuses to use a score.So in the past few years he has dedicated himself to the vast Chamber music repertoire of which he is the indisputed master now that Menahem Pressler has retired.(There are only us two left as Horowitz said to Cherkassky when Bolet died).

This can be seen and heard in Budapest last night and it is indeed strange that so many great artists living in London are never actually invited to perform there.Cheethams in Manchester (where he gave the greatest performance of Beethoven’s 4th Concerto that Craig Shepherd had ever heard ) and the Oxford Philamusica have been two enlightened oasis that have been able to enjoy his performances and precious advice in Masterclasses,but London has been deaf for too long to the gold that is hidden at the bottom of its garden!

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