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SOUTHPAW STRATEGY

Maurice Ravel composed his Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in 1930 for Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in combat during WWI but was determined to continue concertizing. Ever since, it's been a godsend to pianists afflicted with left-handed problems. Perhaps the most famous of these is the legendary Leon Fleisher, who, when he was 36, suffered the debilitating onset of focal dystonia, or repeated stress syndrome, in his left hand. For the next 35 years, Fleisher scoured the world for a cure, as he became intimately familiar with every aspect of keyboard repertoire for the left hand — in particular, the Ravel. "I decided that my connection to music was more than just as a two-handed piano player," Fleisher says. "I was very lucky. It just so happens that the Ravel left-hand concerto is one of the great masterpieces of the whole bloody literature, for one hand or for 15 hands." Indeed, this stunning work, with overtones both tragic and heroic, is so artfully composed that you'd never guess it wasn't a two-handed affair. This week, the 82-year-old Fleisher, who estimates he's played the concerto "at least 1,000 times," and who, by the way, has been officially two-handed again since he regained the use of his injured hand some years back, gives the old leftie masterpiece another whirl with the L.A. Phil in Fleisher Plays Ravel, under the exciting baton of the young Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen. Also on the program: Sibelius' Finlandia and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave.; Tues., Aug. 17, 8 p.m.; $1-$129. (323) 850-2000, hollywoodbowl.com.
Tue., Aug. 17, 8 p.m., 2010


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