Leon Fleisher: Four Hands

Leon Fleisher, Katherine Jacobson (piano)

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bolcom,Brahms,Ravel and Schubert
LABELS: Sony
ALBUM TITLE: Leon Fleisher: Four Hands
WORKS: Works by Khachaturian, Komitas, Bagdasarian, Mirzoyan and Babadjanian
PERFORMER: Sergey Khachatryan (violin), Lusine Khachatryan (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 88875064162

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Here’s an hour of almost unalloyed pleasure. We are used to hearing Brahms’s Liebeslieder-Walzer sung chorally, and it’s great to encounter them in the four-hand piano version which he published to cash in – in the nicest possible way – on this glorious work’s popular success. He himself had the poetry printed above the piano parts because meaning was vital to their full appreciation, and these pianists convey that meaning with great finesse. Here they present love in all its forms – longed-for, requited, lost, or unrequited – in a performance which crackles with drama. We can feel the narrator’s misery as he sits in a dark pit of despair, and we sense the tremor in the branches, as the bird which represents the movements of his hopeful heart flies through.

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The opening movements of Schubert’s Fantasie in F minor may be ponderously slow and sombre, but the return of the first theme in major mode – and its run-up to the deep finality of the coda – is beautifully effected. La valse, arranged by Ravel’s editor and friend Lucien Garban, emerges in splendidly atmospheric form, and Bolcom’s Rag has loose-limbed grace. Michael Church