Exclusive Early Release at NativeDSD!
Left Hand Legacy Vol. 1 is the new album featuring the Prisma String Trio. It is available from NativeDSD in Stereo, 5 Channel and Binaural DSD. The trio’s debut album on Cobra, Le Muse (The Muse) won the 2021 NativeDSD Album of the Year Award for Chamber Music.
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.
Folke followed Paul Wittgenstein’s trail. He traced a treasure trove of hidden chamber music for piano left hand from Wittgenstein’s library and took it to 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.
For far too long Paul Wittgenstein’s library was inaccessible to the world. The pianist who commissioned Maurice Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand had passed away in 1961, but his widow kept the monumental doors of their country manor firmly closed. Every musicologist knew that there must be a treasure trove hidden inside. It was not until her death in 2001 that te library was opened to the public; the first visitors must have felt like archeologists entering into a nineteenth-century world. Amidst Beethoven’s scores and a hair lock of Brahms, they discovered a pile of chamber music, specially composed for the one-handed pianist. Many works had been premièred by him in the 1920s and 30s and had since lain in quiet neglect; waiting.
Waiting for whom? Pianists who had lost the use of their right hand in mid-career, as a result of an accident or injury. However, those seeking repertoire for the left hand came away disappointed. Among them was Siegfried Rapp, for instance, who received a letter on 5 June 1950 with the message: ‘You don’t build a house just so that someone else can live in it. I commissioned and paid for the works, the whole idea was mine […]. But those works to which I still have the exclusive performance rights are to remain mine as long as I still perform in public; that’s only right and fair. Once I am dead or no longer give concerts, then the works will be available to everyone because I have no wish for them to gather dust in libraries to the detriment of the composer.’ — Paul Wittgenstein
Finally, the opportunity has arrived to restore Wittgenstein’s entire chamber music legacy to the place where it belongs: the concert stage. The Dutch pianist Folke Nauta had to continue his career as a one-handed pianist, after focal dystonia affected his right hand. 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 clarinettist Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer and Prisma String Trio. 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.
Featured in blog post Notes on Recent Finds, No. 9 – Endless Bounty from NativeDSD by music reviewer Rushton Paul.
Folke Nauta – Piano Left Hand
Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer – Clarinet
Prisma String Trio
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 02:16:52
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||December 30, 2022|
The Viennese concert pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm at the front in 1914. He persevered with incredible persistence. These works were written for him so that he could continue to perform with composition uniquely crafted to fit his situation. Maurice Ravel’s famous Concerto for the Left Hand was commissioned by Wittgenstein, but is not included on this album.
Dutch pianist Folke Nauta recently lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia. As did Wittgensten, Folke Nauta persevered to bring back to audiences the trove of chamber music written for piano with the left hand that Wittgenstein had accumulated up until his death in 1961. And, regrettably, as of this writing we now have also lost Folke Nuata, so I write this in remembrance.
…The sound quality of this album is what I’ve come to expect from Tom Peeters in his Cobra Records releases. I feel almost spoiled by the consistent beauty of his recordings as he captures very natural string tone and great piano sound in a nicely resonant acoustic environment. It all sounds like one is present before the performers—just decidedly well done!
Left Hand Legacy is the title of this album. The first part of a project devoted to works for piano left hand composed for the Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein. It is an initiative of the Dutch pianist Folke Nauta. Like Wittgenstein, Nauta saw a flourishing career cruelly disrupted by a persistent injury (focal dystonia) to his right hand and has been involved in repertoire for the left-handed pianist for some time. Nauta graduated with distinction from the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 1997. His teacher was Jan Wijn, who also lost the use of his right hand due to focal dystonia and then concentrated on the repertoire for the left hand.
This is not only a mouth-watering recording because of the chosen subject. By all accounts, it is a performance here that cannot be praised enough. The excellently written explanation (also in Dutch!) by Folke Nauta is full of interesting facts, and the design with many photos is beautiful.
Tom Peeters was responsible for a beautiful recording, warm, spacious and yet transparent. The musical achievements of all involved deserve the highest praise, especially if one takes into account that we are talking about an edition with two hours and twenty minutes of completely new music to study. The excellently written explanation by cellist Michiel Weidner and Folke Nauta is packed with interesting facts. And the best part is that a second part is in the works.
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.
Folke Nauta plays one-handed piano parts with a lot of expression…he performs the pieces with conviction, together with the Prisma String Trio and clarinetist Lars Wouters van den Oudenweijer… definitely worthwhile, especially because of the expressive possibilities of the one-handed piano parts.
Gal’s Quartet is a particularly imaginatively composed piece, heard on this CD in a very inspired, lively interpretation…Franz Schmidt wrote his highly original and autumn-tinted quintet, which lasts about 70 minutes, in 1926…This is followed by an alertly chattering, mischievous Scherzo with a melancholy and, in this recording, movingly tenderly played Trio. The beautiful Adagio that follows begins with a lengthy introduction by the piano. The clarinet is also given a lovely cantabile part. The concluding variations on a theme by Josef Labor end this highly attractive score, despite its length, which is clearly enhanced by the committed and spirited performers, further enriching this already valuable album.
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