This edition of ‘For the Record’ was contributed by Australian pianist Dan Le.
Leon Fleisher was regarded one of the best pianists of the 20th century, undoubtedly because of his Carnegie Hall debut at 16 with the New York Philharmonic, his triumph at the Queen Elisabeth Competition and with his recordings with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra (among other things). He suffered a hand injury during his 30’s unfortunately, and so focused much more on conducting, teaching and left hand repertoire.
I must say a recording that has always stuck with me, and that I really couldn’t put down for many, many years was a recording of Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto with Leon Fleisher and the Cleveland Orchestra conducted by George Szell. It was made in 1959, and was regarded as the ‘definitive’ version at the time – if one could really attain such a status in the world of art and music!
The music itself, however, is one of those treasures in all of piano literature. It opens with the pianist, and in this case, Fleisher, opening with solo piano in a gentle and reverent exhale, as if to look up at the stars, skies and the cosmos. The key word that jumps out to me is ‘stillness’, it creates moments of music when you are forced to listen, to identify with the performer. I think if you can feel this in a recording, you are immediately drawn to that artist and their work.
Szell was a fantastic conductor and musician, and evidently the transparency of the orchestra unravels and brings to life the absolute bliss and joy of this amazing work. It is almost impossible for me to not listen intently when I hear this piece played, it is a track I would never play as background music!
Daniel Le – Biography
Australian pianist Daniel Le was born in Melbourne, where he studied with Rita Reichman and Stephen McIntyre. After being awarded 2nd prize at the Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition 2015 and having received 2nd Place in the 2014 Australian National Piano Award, Daniel made festival appearances in North America and Switzerland in 2015. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music Degree with First class Honours from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. From September this year, he will be attending the Manhattan School of Music on a music scholarship studying with Van Cliburn laureate, Andre-Michel Schub. Following the success of his debut with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in August 2015, Daniel will appear again with the orchestra in November 2016.