Larry Blaine, in response to one of my postings, asked:
>It has only now occurred to me that Fleisher had a hand injury that kept
>him from performing for many years. Has he recovered completely? It's
>hard to see how he could play a piece like the Brahms 1st otherwise.
I was present at his Ravinia performance of the Brahms, almost 55 years
to the week after he gave the very first performance Ravinia of the work,
with the CSO conducted by Leonard Bernstein. It is very hard for me to be
objective about the experience. I've admired Mr. Fleisher greatly for
many years, and have heard his left hand a number of times in concert, but
this was my first live experience of him playing with both hands. It was
beyond a doubt a privilege to be in the audience. I found it very moving
on both musical and emotional levels. One had to cheer his very presence
on stage, being as it was part of a truly remarkable odyssey. His command
of long, lyrical lines was extraordinary, particularly in the second
movement -- the local critic found it too slow, but I found that Mr.
Fleisher held my attention undividedly and beautifully. However, one
should probably be very cautious in speaking of a COMPLETE recovery. His
current biographical material carefully states that he now plays SELECTED
solo and chamber repertoire for two hands. It was clear to me as a pianist
that his mechanism grew progressively more tired during the course of the
concerto, and from my vantage point, I thought I saw him working to keep
his problematic fourth and fifth fingers from curving inward, particularly
in the cadenzas which crown the finale.
In short, the performance lacked the technical assurance and brilliance of
his legendary recording of the work with George Szell, but the humanity,
musicianship and wisdom of the intervening years left indelible marks on
the evening -- memorably so.
DPHorn, Fleisher fan.