Leon Fleisher, The Journey

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Piano playing that’s powerfully intimate

One of the great generation of American pianists that appeared in the '50s, Fleisher's right hand was put out of commission for years by focal dystonia. For a few decades he concentrated on the small repertory for left hand alone, on teaching, and most importantly (as he explains on a bonus interview disc included with this CD) on simply thinking about music — which meant that his artistic growth never stopped. There's no Lang Lang-style barnstorming here — though his cured right hand negotiates the ornate intricacies of Chopin's Berceuse as flawlessly as anyone's — but there is a deep profundity, wisdom, and serenity, brought to bear on some of his favorite repertory, from the simple, almost gospel-like harmonies of the opening of Bach's Capriccio to the sharply etched but lyrical Serenade by Stravinsky. One rarely hears piano playing this thoughtful and powerfully intimate.