Music Reviews

‘Left Hand Legacy Vol. 2’ from Cobra Records

An in-depth review of ‘Left Hand Legacy Vol. 2’ from pianist Folke Nauta. Accompanied by Lars Wouters van den Oudenwijer and the Prisma String Trio and released on Cobra Records.

A laudable initiative that deserves to be fully exploited.

With this second volume of the Wittgenstein Project, many will be thrilled to get more out of the legacy discovered at Paul Wittgenstein’s Country Estate after his wife died. A stack of hidden scores that turned out to be a Treasure Trove full of Chamber Music for a left-hand pianist, once composed for or commissioned by a talented and courageous pianist who had his right arm amputated but would not give up his passion for the piano. 

This follow-on release is played by the same forces that entered in 2022 on the wings of the recently created Dutch quality label Cobra Records the privileged market of classical music connoisseurs for whom only the best will do.

The Dutch seem to hold the secret of continuing to operate at the sharp end of recorded classical music. This applies to labels and musicians alike. Cobra Records is one of them, catering for the discerning High-Resolution crowd with many exceptionally well-crafted and engineered releases for which Tom Peeters earns all the credits.

Tom Peeters, Cobra Records

Such a label is a sine qua non for artists to give their best. And believe me, in this second volume, Janneke van Prooijen (violin), Elisabeth Smalt (viola) and Michiel Weidner (cello), forming together the ‘Prisma String Trio’, Lars Wouters (clarinet), and Folke Nauta, playing left-hand piano, are just as good as in the first. Reading their previously garnered laurels, I can’t think of any new superlatives that suit them better. This is Chamber Music at the top of the heap.

From time to time the market is presented with unmissable-and-thus-far-completely-and-totally- neglected ‘pearls’, and some of it is worth our precious while indeed. This Wittgenstein Project, however, is of ‘another world’ type of initiative that deserves to be fully exploited. Listening to this release tells you why.

Brilliantly melodious stuff.

A laudable initiative is fine, but if the music is also attractive, it is even ‘finer’. The Austrian Late-Romantic composer and pianist, Franz Schmidt, is best known for his Symphonies, especially No. 4, but he did write three Piano Quintets for Wittgenstein, of which his ‘Second’ is recorded here. Lovely music, exemplarily played, a joy to listen to. Jozef Labor, another purveyor of Paul’s, is for some perhaps a dark horse, although Capriccio (Labor-Edition) released last year his Clarinet Trio No. 2. Unfortunately, in Red Book CD only.  So, our luck is that it is now available in Hi-Res. It is, like Schmidt, or maybe even more so, brilliantly melodious stuff. 

Although primarily composed for the piano, it might as well have been called a Quintet or Trio for Clarinet, as its part is seemingly as important as that of the piano, and maybe also because Lars Wouters conveys his contribution with such a beautifully styled tone.  

In memoriam Folke Nauta is not the end.

The tragedy of this second release is no doubt that it meant the unexpected final one for Folke Nauta, as he left his earthly life only months after the recording sessions had finished. A sorely missed, talented musician who, due to a muscular disorder in his right arm, had been forced to follow Paul Wittgenstein’s example. Similarly persistent led him to concentrate on whatever was still within his reach, thereby initiating the Wittgenstein Project, compiling scores thus far largely missing in the domain of left-handed piano Chamber Music.  I strongly recommend reading all about it in the liner notes.  

To the great relief of all, we learn from the ‘Personal memories of Lars, Janneke, Elisabeth and Michiel’ that this project is to be continued thanks to the Ukrainian pianist Antonii Baryshevskyi who fled to The Netherlands following the Russian aggression against his homeland. I, for one, will look forward with unflagging interest to the next volumes.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2024 Adrian Quanjer and

Written by

Adrian Quanjer

Adrian Quanjer is a site reviewer at HRAudio, with many years of experience in classical music. He writes from his country retreat at Blangy-le-Château, France. As a regular concertgoer, he prefers listening to music in the highest possible resolution to recreate similar involvement at home. He is eager to share his thoughts with like-minded melomaniacs at NativeDSD.


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