Piano Works for the Left Hand
Even before Paul Wittgenstein expanded the repertoire of piano music for the left hand alone, there was a wealth of existing compositions. Scriabin had written his Two Pieces, Op. 9 as a response to tendovaginitis in his own right hand, Saint-Saens's Six Etudes, Op. 135 were written for Caroline Montigny-Remaury whose right hand had been damaged in an accident, and Leopold Godowsky had written pieces for the left hand alone which extended keyboard technique to its limits in order to show off his own extraordinary abilities.
In Takacs's Toccata and Fugue, Fleischer's intelligent, detailed approach and finely controlled contrapuntal clarity are enhanced by the vivid recording. The crisp piano sound also suits Saint-Saens's Op. 135 Etudes well—particularly in movements such as the moto perpetuo and bourree which recall the eighteenth-century solo suite. The longest work is Brahms's transcription of the chaconne from Bach's Second Solo Violin Partita. This is a compelling performance in which Brahms's broad conception and the musical logic of his model are beautifully revealed. Saxton's Chacony was dedicated to Fleischer who gave its first performance, and here he captures the work's evocative atmosphere and process of development. Fleischer is as accomplished in the poetic warmth and expressiveness of the Scriabin pieces as he is in the overtly decorative passagework of Blumenfeld's Etude and the conscious virtuosity of Godowsky's Symphonic Metamorphoses which bring flamboyance and sparkle to the recital.
Here is an enjoyable programme which provides an interesting and valuable sample of this specialized repertoire. However, the brightly-lit Sony recording is apt to make the piano sound glassy at times.'