LSM Newswire

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leon Fleisher turns 80, Keeping the Magic



A Birthday Salute: SONY BMG Masterworks Digitally Releases Early Recordings Previously Available Only on LP

Fleisher's World Premiere Recording of Hindemith's "Klaviermusik mit Orchester" Scheduled for Release in Spring 2009 on Ondine Records

"Right on! The career of Leon Fleisher has no parallel." Dan Green, Piano Magazine

NEW YORK July 23, 2008 Beloved Maestro Leon Fleisher turns 80 years old today and the world is celebrating his octogenarian status. He first brings the magic to his adopted city of Baltimore July 24-25, conducting and performing an all-Mozart program with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to kick off a major-city U.S. tour, followed by dates around the world throughout the 2008-09 season. He fills concert halls with generations of fans, there to witness history and the incomparable talents of a nonpareil figure in the pantheon of musical greats.

On July 29, Sony BMG Masterworks will release for the first time in digital format six full-length recordings, made during the first treasured decade between 1954 and 1963 of Fleisher's exceptional career. Originally signed to Columbia Masterworks in 1954, Fleisher created a catalog and, in retrospect, documented history in the following early recordings, which are now being released in full:

* Schubert: Sonata in B-Flat Major, D.960 / Lndler original LP release 1956
* Debussy: Suite Bergamasque / Ravel: Sonatine / Valses nobles et sentimentales / Alborado del gracioso original LP release 1959
* Mozart: Sonata in C Major, K.330 / Sonata in E-Flat Major, K.282 / Rondo in D Major, K. 485 original LP release 1960
* Liszt: Sonata in B Minor / Weber: Sonata No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 70 / Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65 original LP release 1960
* Copland: Piano Sonata / Sessions: From My Diary / Kirchner: Piano Sonata / Rorem: Three Barcarolles original LP release 1963
* Brahms: Quintet for Piano and Strings in F Minor, Op. 34 with the Juilliard String Quartet original LP release 1963

These six albums will be available from iTunes and other DSPs. Physical CDs are available only through ArkivMusic. iTunes is the only digital vendor to carry each album's original cover art and liner notes reformatted in a new digital booklet, which will also be available with the burn-on-demand CDs.

Fleisher has garnered significant coverage in the
New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post, Reader's Digest, and on CBS and ABC, among other major media outlets. He is the subject of the documentary film Two Hands (Nathaniel Kahn) nominated in 2006 for an Academy Award. In December Fleisher became a Kennedy Center Honoree at the 30th annual celebration of the arts, in company with Steve Martin, Martin Scorcese, Diana Ross and Brian Wilson. Caroline Kennedy recognized him as a "a piano prodigy from the Golden Gate who rose to the heights, embraced adversity and became a musician for all seasons."

Fleisher's 1963 stereo recording of the Brahms Piano Quintet in F Minor with the Juilliard String Quartet, which was offered complete earlier this year as a bonus download with Masterworks' two-disc compilation
The Essential Leon Fleisher, will join five titles that restore to the catalog Fleisher's early solo recital recordings. Although select, individual works from these releases were featured previously on Philips' two-disc set devoted to Fleisher in the Great Pianists of the 20th Century series and on other Sony Classical reissues, this is the first time these recordings have been available complete in the digital era.

The birthday festivity will continue throughout the coming year. In spring 2009, Ondine Records will release Fleisher's world premire recording of Paul Hindemith's
Klaviermusik mit Orchester with Christoph Eschenbach conducting the Curtis Symphony Orchestra. Commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein and written in 1923 for piano left hand and orchestra, only to be discovered in 2002, Fleisher performed the acclaimed 2004 world premire in Berlin. This past April, the piece was recorded live in concert at Philadelphia's Verizon Hall paired with Dvork's Symphony No. 9 ("From the New World"). Executive producer of the recording is Kevin Kleinmann, formerly vice president of PolyGram/Universal Classics.

The extraordinary renaissance of Fleisher's career has been documented extensively, and became widely publicized around his "comeback" albumthe critically acclaimed
Two Handshis first two-hand solo piano recording released in 2004. The album went on to hold a top 5 Billboard Chart position and is a hit worldwide. The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Gramophone Magazine and many others have hailed it as one of the top recordings of its year, in any genre.

Fleisher's 80th Birthday celebrations around the countryĶ

7/24, 25 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore & Strathmore, MD
7/30 Ravinia Festival, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Highland Park, IL
8/8 Tanglewood Boston Symphony Orchestra, Lenox, MA
8/20 La Jolla Music Society, La Jolla, CA
9/13, 14 Chamber Music Society of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
9/27 Germantown Performing Arts Center, Germantown, TN
10/2 Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
10/3 Celebrity Series of Boston, Boston MA
10/5 Shriver Hall Concert Series, Baltimore, MD
10/11, 12 Westchester Philharmonic, Purchase, NY
10/16, 18 San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco, CA
10/17 San Francisco Symphony, Cupertino, CA

and in performances around the world including London, Brussels, Paris, Lucerne, Singapore throughout the 2008-2009 season.


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