Left Hand Legacy Vol.1 (Double Album)
€8.99 – €35.99
For far too long Paul Wittgenstein’s library was inaccessible to the world. Not before 2001 a pile of chamber music surfaced, specially composed for the pianist who commissioned Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand. These chamber music works have hardly ever been played since Wittgenstein premièred them in the 1920s and 30s.
On Left Hand Legacy Vol.1 five top-of-the-bill chamber musicians from The Netherlands join forces to pay tribute to this hidden treasure. They are determined to tell audiences all around the globe about this utterly special one-armed man Wittgenstein, in music and words, on stage and on CD.
Two pianists were faced with a terrible choice: end of career or persevere? The Viennese pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm at the front in 1914. He persevered with incredible persistence. Pianist Folke Nauta recently lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia. Wittgenstein was his model and this trove of chamber music was his salvation. There was just one complicating factor: Wittgenstein’s library had become dispersed throughout the world. Nauta tracked down the original manuscripts in Austrian and English archives, still containing Wittgenstein’s furiously scribbled annotations.
The quintet formation of piano, clarinet and string trio is a consistent feature of Wittgenstein’s chamber music legacy. So Nauta approached the clarinetist Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer and Prisma String Trio. These five musicians made a daring plan for two double albums, 21 concerts, four new compositions and a podcast documentary. Together they launched the Wittgenstein Project, with the aim of bringing the music back to life and telling Wittgenstein’s extraordinary tale of misery, struggle and artistic triumph.
In the chamber music setting the one-handed piano is treated like a different instrument; full and rich whilst retaining a transparent sound. All four composers on this double album were famous in their time, composed in a late romantic idiom, and therefore became somewhat overshadowed by their modernist colleagues. It says enough, that this double album features two world première recordings; Ernst Walker’s Variations on an Original Theme and Josef Labor’s Sonata no.3 in E major.
Muziekhaven, Zaandam, The Netherlands
|Producer, recording engineer||
|Original recording format||
Bruel & Kjaer 4003, Neumann modified by Rens Heijnis
Trouw, januari 2023
Kwintet in A-groot van Franz Schmidt is een imposant en en omvangrijk stuk dat meer dan een uur duurt. Opvallend is het tweede deel waarin alleen de piano te horen is. Nauta laat dat Intermezzo op zo’n maner klinken dat je nooit zou vermoeden dat het slechts met één hand gespeeld wordt…Het opvallend goede stuk uit 1938 zit verder vol met aangename verrassingen, met als originele vijfde deel Variaties op een thema van Josef Labor…Nauta en zijn muzikale collega’s hebben een prachtig eerste bewijs van hun grote project afgeleverd. Hulde voor het onderzoek en hulde voor Nauta die van zijn handicap zijn kracht heeft gemaakt.
Quintet in A major by Franz Schmidt is an imposing and voluminous piece that lasts more than an hour. Remarkable is the second part in which only the piano can be heard. Nauta makes that Intermezzo sound in such a way that you would never suspect that it is played with only one hand… The remarkably good piece from 1938 is also full of pleasant surprises, with the original fifth movement Variations on a Theme by Josef Labor…Nauta and his musical colleagues have delivered a wonderful first part of their great project. Hurray for the research and hurray to Nauta who has turned his handicap into his strength.