Posts Tagged ‘George Szell

En hommage à Leon Fleisher (San Francisco, 23 juillet 1928 – Baltimore, 2 août 2020), un immense pianiste apollinien…


En hommage au pianiste magicien qu’a été Leon Fleisher

(San Francisco, 23 juillet 1928 – Baltimore, 2 août 2020),

cet article de Tom Huizenga, le 2 août dernier, avant-hier, Leon Fleisher, The Pianist Who Reinvented Himself, Dies At 92 :

Leon Fleisher, The Pianist Who Reinvented Himself, Dies At 92

Pianist Leon Fleisher eventually resumed playing with both hands after an injury sidelined him at age 36.

Chris Hartlove/Provided by the artist

One of America’s most beloved and resourceful pianists has died. Leon Fleisher was 92 years old. He died of cancer in Baltimore Sunday morning, according to his son, Julian.

The pianist’s roller coaster career began with fame, moved to despair and ended in fulfillment.

In his memoir, Fleisher said he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t playing the piano. He gave his first public recital at age eight and was just 16 when he debuted at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic. Conductor Pierre Monteux called Fleisher the « pianistic find of the century« . At 25, he recorded his first album for Columbia Records, a deep dive into music by Franz Schubert that Tim Page, writing for the Washington Post in 1996, called « transcendent« .

Page described Fleisher as a pianist who had it all : « a technique that knew no difficulties, a bejeweled and expressive tone, a sure intellectual command of musical form, and an acute sensitivity to whatever he played« .

Anne Midgette, who followed Page as the Washington Post‘s chief classical music critic and who co-authored Fleisher’s memoir My Nine Lives, says that the pianist stood out with a certain clarity and « rightness » to the approach and the playing _ un merveilleux compliment !

« Leon had this kind of Apollonian perfection _ voilà ! _, » Midgette says. « When you hear something that he’s playing, you think that is the way it needs to be played. There’s just this sense of completion about it » _ c’est parfait.

That was especially true of a series of concerto recordings Fleisher made with conductor George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra in the 1950s and ’60s _ oui. « The Brahms First [Piano Concerto] was his signature piece, » Midgette says. « It’s that sound world of the German speaking composers that it was his heritage« . At age 12 Fleisher’s parents gave him a recording of the Brahms First, and it would be the piece he’d play at Carnegie Hall four years later.

Fleisher was born in San Francisco July 23, 1928. He took over the family piano at age four when it became obvious to his parents that he possessed significant talent. By nine, he was off to Europe to study with the legendary pianist Artur Schnabel, whose teacher’s teacher was Beethoven.

At 23, Fleisher became the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition in Brussels. His mastery of the instrument led to a golden career, but it all came to a surprising halt _ voilà _ when he was only 36 _ en 1964.

Fleisher was slated to tour the Soviet Union with conductor Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, but the fourth and fifth fingers on his right hand were beginning to mysteriously curl under. He couldn’t control them. He was dismissed from the tour, began cancelling performances and, as he told NPR in 2000, slipped into a « deep funk and despair« .

« The gods know how they hurl their thunderbolts, » Fleisher said. « Having spent 36, 37 years of playing two hands and then to have it denied was a tremendous blow« . Fleisher considered suicide. But he also tried everything to repair his hand, from hypnosis and EST seminars to acupuncture and carpal tunnel surgery.

After about two years of despair, Fleisher was willing to admit to himself that he should begin to look in other directions.

« I suddenly came to the realization that my connection with music was greater than just as a two-handed piano player« , he said.

Fleisher increased his teaching, began a conducting career, and focused on performing music written specifically for the left hand only. Much of the repertoire had been composed for pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I.

« Leon was the first to exhume some of it, and some had been thought lost« , Midgette says. But, she adds, « people weren’t just paying to see a left-handed pianist. They were paying to see the great Leon Fleisher playing with the left hand« . Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for the Left hand became Fleisher’s new calling card. Leon Kirchner, among other contemporary composers, wrote left-handed music for Fleisher.

One of Fleisher’s first attempts to resume playing with both hands (in Baltimore, Sept. 16, 1982). It didn’t last.

Although he finally accepted his condition — eventually diagnosed as Focal Dystonia – Fleisher never gave up hope. In the mid-1990s, after a series of deep tissue manipulations known as Rolfing, the control over his fingers slowly began to return. He also began Botox injections, and little by little, Fleisher resumed performing with all ten fingers. In 1996, Page wrote « I would rather listen to Fleisher, even in his current, delicate shape, than to most other pianists now before the public« . In 2004, Fleisher released an album simply titled, Two Hands, his first such album in 41 years _ allait suivre en 2006 l’album Leon Fleisher the journey. En voici l’émouvant Capriccio sur le départ de son frère bien-aimé, BWV 992. Bonne écoute !

Fleisher never approached his former two-handed glory, but he did make a triumphant return to Carnegie Hall in 2003 and was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor in 2007. His story, Midgette says, is a potent lesson.

« He leaves a legacy about overcoming adversity and about pushing through and finding different ways to express yourself« , Midgette says. « That’s a really great thing for young musicians to be exposed to« .

Young musicians, and all of us.

Ainsi que ce CD Vanguard ATM CD 1796 Leon Fleisher the journey paru en 2006,

une fois le pianiste ayant reconquis l’usage de sa main droite,

suite à une dystonie focale qui s’était déclarée en 1964

et installée durablement depuis 1966…

Leon Fleisher : un immense pianiste apollinien…

Ce mardi 4 août 2020, Titus Curiosus – Francis Lippa

Musiques de joie : le romantisme radieux de Johannes Brahms (II) : la puissance sidérante du premier Concerto pour Piano, opus 15, par Clifford Curzon et le London Symphony Orchestra dirigé par George Szell en 1962


Encore une royale et stupéfiante performance

que celle du pianiste Clifford Curzon

(Londres, 18 mai 1907 – Londres, 1er septembre 1982),

et du chef George Szell

(Budapest, 7 juin 1897 – Cleveland, 30-7-1970)

à la tête du London Symphony Orchestra, en mai 1962,

pour le Premier Concerto pour Piano et Orchestre, en ré mineur, opus 15,

de Johannes Brahms

(Hambourg, 7 mai 1833 – Vienne, 3 avril 1897) ;

chef d’œuvre dont la première eut lieu à Hanovre le 22 janvier 1959,

avec Brahms au piano ;

soit le CD Decca 417 641-2,

enregistré à Londres en 1962.

J’ai écouté quelques autres interprétations qui me sont tombées sous la main

dans le désordre de ma discothèque :

Rudolf Serkin et George Szell à Cleveland, hier,

et aujourd’hui Lars Vogt dirigeant du piano l’orchestre du Royal Northern Sinfonia,

ou Adam Laloum et Kazuki Yamada dirigeant le Rundfunk SinfonieOrchester Berlin :

elles n’ont pas la puissance sidérante

et de la plus parfaite évidence

qui convient tant au jeu du piano

qu’à celui de l’orchestre…

C’est somptueux !

Qu’on en juge par la jubilation que procure le podcast

Quel éblouissement…

Ce jeudi 11 juin 2020, Titus Curiosus – Francis Lippa 

Musiques de joie : la joie vive et malicieuse de Joseph Haydn dans sa Symphonie « La Surprise », n° 94, par George Szell et le Cleveland Orchestra


Pour aborder la joie dans la musique symphonique

_ dont, les années passant, l’effectif instrumental prend de l’ampleur, sinon du poids _,

je choisis Joseph Haydn
(Rohrau am Leitha, 31 mars 1732 – Vienne, 31 mai 1809),
et sa Symphonie (londonienne) n° 94, en Sol Majeur, dite « La Surprise  »,
« avec le coup de timbale »
_ « à faire sursauter les dames » au cours de l’Andante du second mouvement _
créée à Londres le 23 mars 1792.
Pour sa belle vivacité et son humour malicieux.
Et dans l’interprétation parfaitement idoine du Cleveland Orchestra,
sous la direction épatante de George Szell.
In le double album CBS M2YK 45673 _ de ma discothèque.
Alors que la musique de concert, et tout spécialement celle du genre symphonique, va _ vite _ de plus en plus s’étoffer
et le plus souvent s’alourdir,
le génie malicieux de Joseph Haydn
ainsi que l’art souple et vif de la direction d’orchestre de George Szell,
nous offrent ici, en 1792, cette qualité-là de jubilation séduisante…
Ce lundi 18 mai 2020, Titus Curiosus – Francis Lippa

La poésie intimiste d’Adam Laloum dans les deux Concertos pour piano et orchestre de Johannes Brahms


Adam Laloum

est un peu moins à l’aise dans l’exercice du Concerto pour piano avec Orchestre,

que dans les œuvres pour piano seul,

ou dans la musique de chambre,

où vraiment il excelle !

Je ré-écoute en ce moment ses deux Concertos pour piano et orchestre de Brahms

_ soit le double CD Sony 88985460812 _,

et refais le même constat…

La voix d’Adam Laloum excelle dans l’intime.

Et je retrouve les impressions

dont faisait part, le 24 mai 2018, Alain Huc de Vaubert,

en son article de Res Musica

intitulé La Poésie d’Adam Laloum dans les deux Concertos de Brahms :

La poésie d’Adam Laloum dans les deux concertos de Brahms

Ce dimanche 5 janvier 2020, Titus Curiosus – Francis Lippa

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