Tuesday, 17 September 2013

For Left-Hand Alone

Pianist Nicholas McCarthy is giving a recital on 27 September 2013 at 7.30pm at St James's Church Piccadilly, performing music by Bach, Chopin, Gershwin, Liszt, Scriabin and Richard Strauss. What makes McCarthy different is that he was born without a right hand, and has become something of a trail-blazer both for left-handed performers and for other musicians who are differently abled.

Born in 1989, McCarthy is currently the youngest left-handed soloist world-wide. He first studied at the Junior Department of the Guildhall School fo Music and Drama where he was awarded the annual Piano Prize in 2008. In 2012, he graduated from the Royal College of Music as the only left-handed pianist in the College's history.

There is, of course, a repertoire of music for piano left-hand, partly because pianists such as Paul Wittgenstein (who lost his right arm in the First World War) commissioned music but also because composers have written works, often studies, to enable pianists to strengthen their left-hand technique.

Wittgenstein commissioned works from a wide range of composers including Richard Strauss, Ravel, Prokofiev, Hindemith and Benjamin Britten, though he famously did not always perform the works that he commissioned. the best known work associated with him is Ravel's concerto.

Godowsky wrote the most amazing set of Etudes based on Chopin's Etudes many of which are for the left hand only, though listening to them with an innocent ear you would be hard put to detect the lack of two hands. The critic Harold C. Schonberg called them 'the most impossibly difficult things ever written for the piano.'


Nicholas McCarthy's debut disc is available direct from his website. tickets for his 27 September concert are available from Eventbrite.

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