Southpaws

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Pianist Marc-André Hamelin in the WQXR studio.

Pianists use every limb for their instrument, with both hands at the keyboard and both feet on the pedals. Most of the time. There is a surprisingly large number of piano works that call only for the left hand and many of these "left-hand alone" works are featured on this episode of Reflections from the Keyboard.

Perhaps the most famous work for the left-hand is Maurice Ravel’s piano concerto, which was commissioned by the pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm during World War I. Leon Fleisher became a champion of left-hand-only works, including the Ravel concerto, after he lost the use of his right hand to a condition diagnosed as focal dystonia. Fleisher plays a portion of the Ravel on this program, as well as a lesser-known work by Camille Saint-Saens.

Ever the fan of comparative performance, David Dubal’s exploration of the southpaw literature includes a comparison between Leopold Godowsky’s etudes for the left hand and the original two-hand Chopin etudes that inspired them.

Program details:

Alexander Scriabin: Prelude in C Sharp Minor Op. 9 No. 1
— Leon Fleisher, piano.

Camille Saint Saens: Etude no. 2 Op. 135 alla Fuga
— Leon Fleisher, piano.

Camille Saint Saens: Etude no. 2 Op. 135 alla Fuga
— J.C. Martins, piano.

Felix Blumenfeld: Etude in A flat Op. 36
— Simon Barere, piano.

Maurice Ravel: Piano Concerto for LH- Allegro
— Baltimore Symphony; Sergiu Comissiona, conductor; Leon Fleisher, piano

Alexander Scriabin: Nocturn for LH Alone - Op. 9 No. 2
— Alexis Weissenberg, piano.

Frederik Chopin: Etude Op. 10 No. 1
— Georges Cziffra, piano.

Frederik Chopin/Leopold Godowsky: Etude Op. 10 No. 1
— Marc-André Hamelin, piano.

Frederik Chopin: Etude Op. 10 No. 12
— Georges Cziffra, piano.

Frederik Chopin/Leopold Godowsky: Etude Op. 10 No. 12
— Marc-André Hamelin, piano.

Leopold Godowsky: Badinage Op. 10 No. 5
— Marc-André Hamelin, piano.

Camille Saint Saens: Etude Op. 135 No. 6
— Leon Fleisher, piano.