Stories » Overcoming 'Focal Dystonia,' Leon Fleisher releases: 'Mozart Piano Concertos.' His first two-hand recording in over 40 years

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Overcoming 'Focal Dystonia,' Leon Fleisher releases: 'Mozart Piano Concertos.' His first two-hand recording in over 40 years

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A fixture on the American music scene for more than six decades, pianist Leon Fleisher starts the New Year by releasing his first two-hand concerto recording in over 40 years. Praised in his early years for his poetic yet vigorous performances of works by the Viennese masters, the pianist naturally devoted his new disc of two-hand concertos to the music of Mozart, following his miraculous recovery from a neurological impairment of his right hand.

This release includes Mozart's Piano Concertos No. 12 in A Major, K. 414; No. 7 in F Major for two pianos, K. 242; and No. 23 in A Major, K. 488. Fleisher plays alongside the Kammerorchester Stuttgart, a distinguished ensemble that has made something of a specialty of the Viennese Classicists. Fleisher's wife, Katherine Jacobson-Fleisher, joins him in Piano Concerto No. 7 for two pianos.

One of the most dazzling and sublime pianists of his age, Leon Fleisher has triumphed in a career of uncommon breadth and drama. Fleisher was only fifteen when renowned conductor Pierre Monteux hailed him as "the pianistic find of the century." In a series of superb recordings with George Szell for CBS Masterworks, he quickly established a formidable reputation in the works of the Viennese school - with revelatory performances that were as crisply imagined as they were perfectly executed - honoring a pedagogical lineage that traces all the way back to Beethoven himself.

Fleisher's brilliant career was cut short by an early onset of focal dystonia in his right hand, which forced him to focus for many years on repertoire for piano left hand.  In the past decade, following new forms of treatment and therapy, Fleisher has miraculously resumed his performance of two-hand literature. This new recording of Mozart Piano Concertos is a welcome addition to Fleisher's distinguished catalogue of recordings available from Sony Masterworks.

Fleisher's recital and concerto appearances in recent years have reaffirmed his place among the legendary pianists and musicians of our time. As a preview of his latest CD release, Fleisher joined the London Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time since 1962 for a three-city tour of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23, K. 488, under the baton of esteemed conductor Vladimir Jurowski. Beginning at the LPO's very own London home, the refurbished Royal Festival Hall, on February 20, the tour made two stops on the east coast: Strathmore Hall on February 26 and Avery Fisher Hall on February 27.

Fleisher also performed at the "new" Alice Tully Hall on February 22, as one of New York City's premier concert venues reopened its doors after a dramatic, 22-month renovation. To christen the new concert hall, Fleisher played his signature piece, Bach's Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor, in a program that also featured celebrated colleague Jordi Savall.

Fleisher's remarkable recovery from focal dystonia is documented in his critically acclaimed CD Two Hands and Oscar-nominated documentary film of the same name. He is a 2007 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.

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