Zichy, Wittgenstein And Me

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20201108Presented by Nicholas McCarthy

As part of the BBC's focus on disability this month, marking the 25th anniversary of the Disability Discrimination Act, the pianist Nicholas McCarthy, who was born without his right hand, explores the treasures of the left-hand piano repertoire and tells the intriguing stories behind their composition. Whilst Geza Zichy and Paul Wittgenstein, both concert pianists who lost their right arms, are the key figures in the composition and expansion of left-hand music, there are also stories of Godowsky's pedagogical left-hand transcriptions of the Chopin etudes, intended to strengthen his pupils' 'weaker' left-hand technique, and the touching romance behind Brahms's transcription of the Bach Chaconne for Clara Schumann when she injured her right hand in an accident.

Nicholas McCarthy see himself as the next one-handed pianist to follow directly in Zichy and Wittgenstein's footsteps and talks of his hopes for the future expansion of the repertoire. He talks about Stephen Hough's writing for left-hand piano and finds out what it is that makes this repertoire unique, demonstrating specific techniques at the piano.

LISZT / GEZA ZICHY
Liebestraum No.3 in A flat major
Nicholas McCarthy (piano)

FELIX BLUMENFELD
Etude for the Left Hand, Op.36
Simon Barere (piano)

RAVEL
Piano Concerto for the Left Hand – Part 1 (extract)
Paul Wittgenstein (piano)
Concertgebouw Orchestra
Bruno Walter (conductor)

BENJAMIN BRITTEN
Diversions for Piano Left Hand and Orchestra, Op.21 (extracts)
Peter Donohoe (piano)
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Simon Rattle (conductor)

STEPHEN HOUGH
II. Allegretto placido (Im Legendenton), from Sonata for cello and piano left hand 'Les adieux'
Stephen Isserlis (cello)
Stephen Hough (piano)

BACH / BRAHMS
Chaconne in D Minor, from Violin Partita No.2, BWV.1004
Igor Levit (piano)

ERIC KORNGOLD
Waltz, from Suite, Op.23 for 2 violins, cello and Piano left hand
Leon Fleisher (piano)
Yo-Yo Ma (cello)
Jaime Laredo (violin)
Joseph Silverstein (violin)

CHOPIN / GODOWSKY
Studies on Chopin’s Etudes No.6 in C sharp minor, after the Op.10 No.4
Marc Andre-Hamelin (piano)

Pianist Nicholas McCarthy, born without his right hand, explores left-hand piano music.