In honor of pianist Leon Fleisherâ€™s 80th birthday on July 23nd, Sony Classical will release for the first time in digital format six full-length recordings, made between 1954 and 1963 that have only been previously available complete on LP. These recordings document Fleisherâ€™s extraordinary artistry in the solo and chamber repertoire before a neurological affliction known as focal dystonia rendered two fingers of his right hand immobile in 1965.
The six recordings are:
Schubert: Sonata in B-Flat Major, D.960 / LÃ¤ndler â€“ Leon Fleisher, piano (original LP release 1956)
Debussy: Suite bergamasque / Ravel: Sonatine / Valses nobles et sentimentales / Alborado del gracioso â€“ Leon Fleisher, piano (original LP release 1959)
Mozart: Sonata in C Major, K.330 / Sonata in E-Flat Major, K.282 / Rondo in D Major, K. 485 â€“ Leon Fleisher, piano (original LP release 1960)
Liszt: Sonata in B Minor / Weber: Sonata No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 70 / Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 â€“ Leon Fleisher, piano (original LP release 1960)
Copland: Piano Sonata / Sessions: From My Diary / Kirchner: Piano Sonata / Rorem: Three Barcarolles â€“ Leon Fleisher, piano (original LP release 1963)
Brahms: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34 â€“ Leon Fleisher, piano / Juilliard String Quartet (original LP release 1963)
The re-releases are available from iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody and other major digital outlets. iTunes is the only digital vendor to carry the original liner notes by Konrad Wolff and Charles Burr. Physical CDs, complete with each albumâ€™s original cover art and liner notes, are only available through ArkivMusic.
Fleisher has also recorded an exclusive series of podcasts for Sony BMG Masterworks, available on iTunes. His conversation is appealing, relaxed and sincere, as he recounts his early successes and stumbling blocks, most significantly his battle with focal dystonia. He explains his art beautifully but also brings a refreshingly human element to his often-funny interactions with some of the most formidable artists of the 20th century, including Artur Schnabel, George Szell and Leonard Bernstein. To hear these podcasts go to http://www.sonybmgmasterworks.com/podcast/
Leon Fleisher is among the most revered pianists of his generation. His grace, intelligence, and wide-ranging musical imagination are the hallmark of a storied career that spans over sixty years and encompasses Fleisherâ€™s pursuits as a pianist, conductor, and teacher. All of these qualities are in ample evidence on these six releases.
Born in 1928, Fleisher led what seemed a charmed musical life. As a nine-year-old, he began studies with the legendary Artur Schnabel before making a sensational debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 16 in 1944. Hailed by conductor Pierre Monteux as the â€œpianistic find of the centuryâ€ at the time, he went on to become the first American to win the Queen Elisabeth International competition in Belgium in 1952. He made many recordings, foremost among them his concerto recordings with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, before his career as an international star was cut short in 1965. For the next thirty years, he threw himself avidly into a career as a teacher and conductor with Peabody Conservatory, the Tanglewood Music Center, and Baltimore Symphony, among others.
Recently, following new forms of treatment and therapy, Fleisher has miraculously resumed his performance of two-hand literature. The extraordinary renaissance of Fleisherâ€™s career has been documented in his first two-hand recording in some forty years, the critically acclaimed Two Hands. The recordings in this re-release, which were once thought to be the final word on Fleisherâ€™s pianism, now stand as a distinguished bookend to an ongoing career, an invaluable marker on his timeline as an artist of the highest distinction. As Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman of the Kennedy Center Honors, said of Fleisher, who was a 2007 honoree, he remains â€œa consummate musician whose career is a moving testament to the life-affirming power of art.â€
For more information and listening samples, please visit http://www.sonybmgmasterworks.com/leonfleisher/.
For an exclusive Leon Fleisher podcast series, please visit http://podcasts.sonybmgmasterworks....rks/leon-fleisher-music-of-masterworks/.