Fleisher plays Mozart in two-hand concerto return

Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:30pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. pianist Leon Fleisher's right hand is one of the most famous in music.

In the mid-1960s the superstar of the classical music world lost the ability to play with the hand when two fingers became immobile due to a condition called focal dystonia.

After 30 years of teaching, conducting and playing music composed for the left hand, Fleisher regained the use of his right hand after treatment involving botox injections.

The first recording since his rehabilitation came in 2004, and now the 80-year-old has released a recording of Mozart piano concertos including one where he performs with his wife.

He said the choice of music was partly dictated by physical limitations.

"I am still a dystonic, if you will," Fleisher said in a telephone interview from the United States.

"I have focal dystonia and although I take treatments that help minimize the effects of it, nothing cures it, at least not yet, so I have to pick and choose my repertoire.

"I'm not a spring chicken. I don't know what is the dystonia and what is the toll of years."   Continued...

<p>Pianist Leon Fleisher, a 2007 Kennedy Center Honoree, greets photographers as he arrives for a Gala Dinner at the State Department in Washington December 1, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Theiler</p>