Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Stravinsky & Beethoven

COMPOSERS: Bach,Chopin,Mozart,Stravinsky & Beethoven
LABELS: Vanguard
ALBUM TITLE: Leon Fleisher: The Journey
WORKS: Various
PERFORMER: Leon Fleisher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ART CD 334
Exactly what kind of ‘Journey’ Leon

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Fleisher has in mind here isn’t clear

from the programme alone. But this

does make a nicely balanced and

entertaining recital disc – the change

of key from the Bach Chromatic

Fugue to the Chopin Berceuse jarred

slightly on my ears, but that’s the

only niggle. As for the performances,

they are never less than interesting,

and at best exquisite.

Best of all is Fleisher’s Bach. The

Chromatic Fantasy is a compelling

journey in Fleisher’s hands, after

which the picking out of individual

voices in the Fugue is achieved with

great subtlety and clarity. Even the

relatively slight Capriccio ‘On the

departure of a brother’ emerges as

more than a piece of descriptive

whimsy – the ‘General lament of his

friends’ movement is surprisingly

touching, while remaining poised

and dignified. In the Mozart, I’m not

sure that Fleisher doesn’t try to load

this music with more interpretative

‘meaning’ than the notes can actually

bear, however the playing itself is

very fine. His attention to detail is

very welcome in the Chopin, though

it does sometimes break up the flow

of the melodic line. The Stravinsky

on the other hand is beautifully

controlled, the expression restrained

– as Stravinsky preferred – but far

from cold. Why does the disc end

with Beethoven’s Für Elise? Fleisher’s

performance gives no clues, though

it’s good to hear this miniature

treated with an entirely appropriate

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seriousness. Stephen Johnson