Leon Fleisher and friends | Martin Theatre, Ravinia Festival | Classical | Chicago Reader

Leon Fleisher and friends Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Thu., July 2, 8 p.m. 2009

“Suddenly I realized that the most important thing in my life was not playing with my two hands: it was music.” At age 37, pianist Leon Fleisher was shattered both professionally and privately by the focal dystonia that crippled his right hand. For decades he found his salvation in championing left-hand-only repertoire, conducting, and especially teaching. Now 80, he’s miraculously playing and recording with both hands again. Here he brings together some chamber music heavyweights: violinists Miriam Fried and Donald Weilerstein, violists Kim Kashkashian and Paul Biss, and cellist Frans Helmerson. First on the program is Haydn’s String Quartet in D Major, op. 71, no. 2. Less subtle and clever than some of its predecessors, it was written in bold strokes intended for a large public concert hall and features a prominent first violin. The piano part in Brahms’s passionate Piano Trio in C Major, op. 87, is wonderfully balanced with his gorgeous string writing and suits the unpretentious Fleisher. Last is Mendelssohn’s edgy String Quintet no. 2 in B-flat Major, op. 87, which should surprise those only familiar with his most popular works. —Steve Langendorf

Price: $10-$40

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